The SMU women’s basketball team cruised into the No. 2 spot in Conference USA polls following a 73-59 victory over the East Carolina Pirates, Saturday night in Moody Coliseum.
Senior Brittany Gilliam contributed a game-high 19 points to the team’s fourth consecutive win, boosting the team to 14-4 overall and 4-1 in C-USA. The University of Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis have 4-1 conference records as well. Gilliam’s performance, capped off with seven rebounds, was the third time in five games that the 5-foot-11-inch senior has reached double figures in scoring.
Fellow senior Alice Severin pulled down 11 rebounds, tying her career-high, while sophomore Christine Elliot added 17 points and six boards, reaching double-digit scoring for the fourth straight game. Severin’s defensive performance helped quiet ECU’s 75.7 points per game average, making it just the third time this season the league’s leading offense was held to less than 60 points.
“Our seniors are very smart seniors, you don’t always have a group that thinks the game like this game does,” said head coach Rhonda Rompola. “Our three seniors’ basketball IQ is very high. I sometimes say we’re one of the ugliest winning team, but I don’t care, as long as we’re winning.”
SMU never allowed the Pirates to take the lead as the Mustangs got off to a quick start with a 10-2 run before the Pirates could kick their league-leading offense into gear. East Carolina (15-4, 4-2) quickly cut SMU’s lead down to one, 12-11, but they were never able to pull ahead of the home team.
Leading 38-28 at halftime, SMU increased their lead by 18 in just under three minutes of play before the Pirates were able to take advantage of SMU’s foul trouble, cutting the lead to within six points, 58-52, with just over six minutes left in the game. SMU’s final scoring effort, a 15-7 run in the final six minutes, sealed the third straight double-digit win of the season for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs will travel to Houston on Thursday to take on the Rice Owls (8-10, 2-3) in the first of a four-game road trip.