SMU men's basketball defeats Rice in overtime 76-66
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
The SMU men's basketball team defeated the Rice Owls for the second time this season in a 76-66 overtime victory Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum.
"We had to win that game twice," Head Coach Matt Doherty said. "I'm really proud of how the guys responded. They could have sunk emotionally."
With seven seconds left in regulation play, the Owls' Connor Frizzelle hit a three-pointer to bring Rice within two points. Three seconds later, Rice's leading scorer Arsalan Kazemi followed it up with two free throws to tie the game at 57-57.
SMU's Jeremiah Samarrippas took the final shot for the Mustangs before the buzzer but his fell short, sending the game into overtime. However, the
freshman starter made up for it by hitting a shot from behind the arc in the first minute of extra minutes to give his team the final lead of the game.
"It just happened that Collin [Mangrum] had a good pass to me so it's because he made a play that I got the open shot and was lucky enough to knock it down," Samarrippas said.
Tamir Jackson from Rice, who finished the night with a team-high 20 points fouled out 40 seconds in as Rice looked to be closing the gap again but Robert Nyakundi hit two free throws after the foul to put the Mustangs up 62-59.
Up by six with 1:19 left in overtime, Samarrippas drove to the basket for a clutch lay up, leading to SMU's largest lead in overtime.
SMU never looked back as they sealed their first overtime win of the season.
"You want to turn any negative into a positive," Doherty said. "To the kids' credit, they responded. They went out and played a sensational overtime period. It was a hard fought game."
In the first half, Rice came within three points of the Mustangs with eight minutes left but SMU (17-10, 8-5 Conference USA) quickly climbed ahead of the Owls after a three-pointer from senior Collin Mangrum, which gave SMU a 26-18 lead with 2:25 remaining.
Scoring only two free throws within the final nine minutes of the opening half, Rice (12-15, 4-9 C-USA) missed their final 11 shots, while SMU was able to capitalize on eight unanswered points.
SMU, now having won four of their last five home games, went into the break leading 27-18 after holding Rice to only 6-of-21 from the field and generating ten points off Owl turnovers.
With already seven points and rebounds in the first half, Papa Dia went on to record his 12th double double of the season and 25th of his career.
Nyakundi, with 12 of his 26 points in the first half, finished the night shooting a game-high seven shots from the field.
Rice controlled the start of the second half, outscoring SMU 10-1, tying the game at 28-28 off a three-pointer from Lucas Kuipers with 16:41 left but the Owls' lead was short-lived.
SMU's Justin Haynes regained the lead for SMU with a two-point bucket, sparking another 10-1 run from SMU.
The run was then topped off by a slam-dunk by Dia from teammate Mike Walker, leading to a 43-28 SMU lead with 13:51 remaining.
Seconds later, Dia had his first block of the game, shutting down an attempt from Rice's Kazemi.
As the No. 8 team in the country in field goal percentage, SMU finished the night shooting 38 percent from the field.
Also leading the conference in three-point percentage, Nyakundi led his team with 12 points from behind the arc.
Dia nailed two free throws to give SMU a game-high 11-point lead with 8:50 left to seal the win.
He finished the night with 20 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals
Rice, looking for their second consecutive win after defeating Memphis last weekend, shot only 39 percent in field goals and 40 percent in threes while also giving up 20 points off turnovers.
After winning seven of their last nine games, SMU remains in fourth place in Conference USA standings, just one game out of first place.
"We're guaranteed a winning season so this has been pretty darn rewarding for this team and this coaching staff," Doherty said.
In the 192nd meeting between the conference rivals, SMU improved to 118-74 all-time against the Owls. Wednesday night's victory marks the most wins the Mustangs have over any opponent.
Since the first game between the teams in 1918, SMU and Rice have been members of the same conference for the last 93 years.
Prior to joining Conference USA in 2005, both teams were members of the Western Athletic and Southwest Conferences.
The Mustangs have two road games left on the regular season starting with Marshall University on Saturday.
Marshall is currently in seventh place in Conference USA with a 19-9 (7-6) record. The Thundering Herd is led by guard Damier Pitts who is averaging 15.3 points and 4.0 assists per game.
SMU's final home game of the season will be on March 5 when the team hosts University of Texas at El Paso at 2 p.m. in Moody Coliseum.