The SMU men’s basketball team clinched their first win of the season in a 79-62 victory over Florida Gulf Coast University Saturday night in Moody Coliseum.
The Mustangs won again on Monday night, tying their record out to 2-2 with a 69-65 win over Huston-Tillotson (0-3).
Against FGCU, senior Mouhammad Faye and sophomore Paul McCoy led the team with 18 points apiece and seven and eight rebounds, respectively.
“It was nice to win,” head coach Matt Doherty said. “But I’m a coach and I grade the performance not the outcome, and I didn’t think we played particularly well.”
It took some time, but the Mustang defense found their rhythm through a steal by sophomore guard Justin Haynes at the 14-minute mark, as SMU pulled ahead by four points.
“[Haynes] was great. It was his best game,” Doherty said. “Hopefully this springboards him because that three-spot position is critical for us.”
Haynes went on to finish the night with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals. As a whole, SMU’s bench added 27 points, a significant increase from their two-point contribution last weekend against Texas A&M.
Despite shooting just 4-17 from the field and failing to hit zero of their five attempted threes in the first 13 minutes of play, the Mustangs pulled down six rebounds on both ends of the court and shot five of six from the free-throw line.
SMU managed to maintain a consistent lead throughout the first half, but faltered with five minutes remaining, letting the Eagles take the lead before SMU retaliated. Doherty said afterwards the team might have started to relax a little bit, thinking the win would come easy to them
Faye, the 6-foot-9-inch forward and one of the team’s three captains, nailed a shot at the buzzer though to send the Mustangs into the locker room with the game tied at 31-31.
SMU started the second half strong as McCoy drained a three pointer to put the Mustangs back on the top the remainder of the game. With two minutes remaining, SMU led by 19 points to seal their first win of the season.
The Mustangs posted a 30 percent difference between their field goal shooting in the first and second half, improving to 60 percent in the final 20 minutes of play. Getting 44 boards compared to the Eagles’ 23.
In SMU’s close win over Huston-Tillotson, the Mustangs got an early spark, outscoring the Rams 11-3 in the first five minutes. Already with 24 rebounds at the end of the first half, the Mustangs never allowed HTU to come within more than six points in the opening half.
“I was embarrassed to be the coach of that team,” Doherty said. “I thought we could count on effort but we didn’t give any effort. Maybe their heads were on Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t on this game.”
Despite struggling to hit any shots from the long range, the Mustangs made up for it with a 47 percent field goal rate, a 13 percent decrease from their win over FGCU. None of the Mustangs’ 11 three-point attempts fell, while HTU hit seven of their 21 attempts from the long range.
In the second half, SMU came out strong, going on another run to give them their largest lead of 18 points. SMU’s height advantage (HTU’s tallest player was listed at only 6-foot-6), allowed the Mustangs to penetrate inside, giving them 38 points in the paint.
The end of the second half was a complete opposite than the first twenty minutes of play as the final minute came down to the wire with the Rams coming within three points of tying the game with eight seconds left. Eating up the clock, SMU called a timeout to give them the ball back till the final buzzer.
“It showed a real lack of maturity, which I’ve been praising them for in the past,” Doherty said. “We’re not mature enough yet to accomplish the goals we have.”
McCoy and senior Derek Williams led the team in scoring again, posting 11 and 18 points, respectively. Williams went on to finish the night with a team-high 18 points, while senior Papa Dia recorded the team’s first double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 boards.