SMU men's basketball ousted in first round of C-USA tournament
Men’s basketball ends season on four-game losing streak
Published: Friday, March 11, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Despite a valiant comeback in the second half, the SMU men's basketball team was unable to beat Rice University when it most counted, falling to the Owls 58-57 in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament Wednesday night.
Senior point guard Collin Mangrum hit his second three-pointer of the night with 33 seconds left to bring the Mustangs (17-14, 8-8 C-USA) within one point. But teammate Robert Nyakundi's long jumper at the buzzer missed, leaving the junior forward shooting just 2-of-7 on the night.
In the team's two previous wins over Rice (14-17, 5-11 C-USA), Nyakundi averaged 27.5 points, including 11 three-pointers. After scoring 55 points against the Owls in the first two meetings, Nyakundi was held to just five points against Rice in the post season.
Tied at 27 a piece at the half, SMU surrendered the first 11 points coming out of the break to Rice, allowing its opponent to build a 38-27 lead. But as the clock wound down, SMU answered back with two free throws from freshman point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas to cut the Owls' lead to 55-53 with 3:32 remaining.
Rice's Arsalan Kazemi increased the lead again with two successful shots from the line, but again the Mustangs responded with a bucket from senior forward Papa Dia to put SMU back within one point.
Dia, in his final game as a Mustang, scored a team-high of 22 points accompanied with 15 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season and 27th of his career. Before Wednesday's game, Dia was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named to the All-Conference USA First-Team on Monday.
In the final minute, the Owls missed two shots, but an inside shot from Bryan Beasley to Kazemi put Rice back up by three with 53 seconds left.
Mangrum's three-pointer and steal from Connor Frizzelle followed, but Kazemi's rebound of Nyakundi's missed shot sealed the Mustangs' fate. Kazemi, in only his second year, had a game-high 24 points coupled with 13 rebounds.
SMU finished the night shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent in three's, compared to 35.7 and 25 percent from the Owls. But as was the case in the Mustangs' final three games of the regular season, turnovers hurt SMU, as Rice was able to collect 25 points off SMU's costly mistakes.
Mangrum, who was named to the C-USA All Academic Team, had his sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and eight boards. Samarrippas, in his first post-season appearance with SMU, scored 11 points.
In the series against Rice during the regular season, SMU had defeated the Owls in the past seven out of eight games.
The last time the teams played against each other in 2006, SMU came away with a 61-59 win in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament.
Earlier in the season, the Mustangs established their longest winning streak in conference play, going on to win five straight games before falling to the University of Texas at El Paso. SMU also finished over the .500 mark for the first time in Head Coach Matt Doherty's five years, finishing with three more wins than last season's total.
On the season, the Mustangs finished first in the league and seventh in the NCAA in field goal percentage and first in C-USA and 13th in the NCAA in three-point percentage. SMU's 49.3 shooting percentage also ranks second in conference history.