Papa Dia’s double-double not enough to take down Cougars
Published: Monday, January 17, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Papa Dia seems to have some of his best games when the University of Houston comes to town. In last season's win over the Cougars, Dia scored a career-high 31 points in his team's win.
On Saturday, he finished with 23 points, 11 boards and a career-high seven blocks to top off his seventh double double of the season and 20th of his career.
In a game that came down to the final five seconds, SMU came within two points with a dunk from Dia. Houston pulled ahead by two with four seconds left before SMU's Mike Walker tried a three-pointer for the win. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, what would have been Walker's second three of the night bounced off the backboard, ending the game at 70-68 in favor of Houston.
"You really thought he was going to make it," Dia said. "I told him not to worry about it because the next time he's going to make it."
Even head coach Matt Doherty was ready to congratulate his team on another win.
"It was an entertaining college basketball game," Doherty said. "When Mike Walker released that ball I was going down to [Houston head coach Mike] Dickey thinking I was going to congratulate him on a great effort because we were winning the game."
Despite SMU having three players posting double-digit scores, Houston (10-6, 2-1 C-USA) came away with a last-second victory over the weekend. Even with the Cougars missing their leading scorers in Kendrick Washington and Maurice McNeal, SMU (10-7, 1-2 C-USA) struggled to defend the Cougars' 60 percent success rate in three-pointers.
"Our defense at the three-point and boxing out, to me, that cost us," Doherty said. "We didn't shoot like we normally do from the three-point or foul line."
Coming off a 64-58 win over Memphis, the Mustangs displayed the confidence to record back-to-back conference wins, but SMU's 32-31 lead at halftime didn't hold up through the second half.
SMU matched Houston point-for-point as the lead changed 18 times in the second half but a series of free throws from the Cougars gave the visitors the edge they needed for their second consecutive conference win.
"Houston really hit a lot of tough shots and they're more mature than Memphis," Dia said.
SMU finished the night shooting only 50 percent from the field and going 6-for-21 from beyond the arch, with Dia, Robert Nyakundi and Collin Mangrum playing nearly the entire game. In his first start as a Mustang, Mangrum played all forty minutes, racking up 13 points, including several clutch baskets that kept SMU within reach of overthrowing Houston late in the second half.
On three occasions, Mangrum's shots put SMU back in the lead against the Cougars, including a defensive rebound that led to a basket with just under six minutes left to put the Mustangs up 61-58.
"He played terrific," Doherty said. "You can't fault his effort and what he's doing for our team . . . The energy, his effort, his hustle have to be rewarded."
However, with Doherty admitting the team lacks depth upfront and Nyakundi still recovering from a rolled ankle suffered against Tulane, the team needs to develop more to take some of the pressure off the team's leading scorers.
Despite getting only two points from the bench, Doherty said he was proud of the team in how they executed and prepared for the final seconds of play.
The Mustangs will visit the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Wednesday before hosting the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Moody Coliseum Jan. 22.