SMU men's basketball earns second CollegeInsider.com Tournament victory
Published: Monday, March 21, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
Clinching their first postseason win since 1988 in a 64-57 overtime victory over Oral Roberts last week in Moody Coliseum, the SMU Mustangs continued their streak in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament following an unexplainable 63-62 win over Jacksonville Saturday.
"They call it March Madness for a reason and it was a crazy game," Head Coach Matt Doherty said. "We played almost impeccable basketball for 16 minutes of the game, then we got the turnover bug going in the last four minutes."
Despite being up by 21 points with 6:38 remaining, SMU (19-14) surrendered the lead to the Dolphins with just under one minute left off a lay up from JU's Delwan Graham. The Mustangs regained a two-point advantage courtesy of a pair of free throws from freshman Jeremiah Samarrippas, but JU answered back with a three-pointer from Travis Cohn with 4.7 left.
With .8 seconds left, Samarrippas looked for a teammate to pass to but was forced to call a final time out that left Collin Mangrum with the inbound pass to Papa Dia. Dia, fouled by Graham, was given the opportunity to shoot two free throws for the win, with .1 second left on the clock.
"A lot of stuff came to my head," Dia said. "I started thinking, ‘Please God, please help me make these two free throws,' then for some reason my mom's picture came to my mind and I just did what I was taught to do, just throw it up and shoot it."
Coming off the bench in the team's win over ORU, Dia showed no signs of weakness, sinking two free throws to lift SMU over the Dolphins for the win.
"You work on these special situations all year long but never get to use them," Doherty said. "Every kid dreams of being at the free throw line with no time on the clock, and he looked calm, but I'm sure his heart was about to come out of his chest."
With a commanding 36-22 lead at halftime, SMU's defense began struggling against the Dolphin's fast-paced offense, pulling down just 11 boards while allowing 40 points to put JU (20-12) within seven points with 8:04 remaining.
"You have to give them credit, they're a good basketball team," Samarrippas said. "They're going to make runs and we have to fight back to make our run."
"I feel like we got nonchalant with the ball," Mangrum said.
While managing to stay ahead by as many as six points the entirety of the second half, SMU finished the night with two players reaching double figures. In addition to a game-high 24 points from Dia, Samarrippas and senior Mike Walker had 16 and nine points, respectively.
Despite his five turnovers, Samarrippas established a new career-high point total, including nine points from three's, to make up for only two points from the injured Robert Nyakundi.
Nyakundi, who left the game early in the first half after taking an elbow to the face, was said by Doherty to be "fine" and is expected to return on Monday.
Jacksonville, advancing to the second round following a 71-66 overtime win over East Carolina, was eliminated from the second round of the NIT last season after a 64-69 loss to Texas Tech.
In their win over the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, the Mustangs' first victory since Feb. 23 came from two free throws by Justin Haynes in the final 28 seconds of overtime to extend SMU's lead to 60-57. A turnover from ORU put the ball back in SMU's hands as time expired, sealing the Mustangs' second overtime win this season.
But despite a two-point advantage at the break, ORU staged a comeback against SMU to tie the game at 52 a piece after regulation.
Shooting 45.8 percent on the night, Dia, who came off the bench with a sore back, led the team with 17 points, followed by junior Robert Nyakundi with 15 and senior Mike Walker with eight.
Freshman Jeremiah Samarrippas in his postseason debut, had three steals and three assists.
The eighth meeting between the teams marked the Mustangs' third overtime game on the season, putting SMU up 7-1 overall in the series against the Golden Eagles.
With three rounds remaining in the tournament, the Mustangs travel to Northern Iowa on Monday to take on the 20-13 Panthers in the quarterfinal round at 7 p.m.
"I think you can get better in a tournament," Doherty said. "We need to take better care of the basketball and boxing out. Northern Iowa isn't a pressure team but they are a very good shooting team."
Coming off an 84-50 win over Rider University in the first round of the tournament, the Panthers have plenty of experience in the postseason, having defeated Kansas in last year's NCAA Tournament.
If the Mustangs defeat Northern Iowa they will advance to the semifinal round to play on either March 25 or 26.
The game takes place Monday at 8 p.m.
The teams playing on the other side of the bracket are Santa Clara (21-14) and San Francisco (19-14) and could both potentially be SMU's opponent in the semifinal round. They play Tuesday at 10 p.m.
The other teams still remaining in the tournament are University of Buffalo (20-13), Iona College (23-11), Ohio State University (19-15), or East Tennessee State University (23-11).