SMU knocked off the Houston Baptist Huskies, 82-68, Saturday afternoon in Moody Coliseum in the team’s final non-conference game of the season.
Following a 73-65 road win over the Rice Owls last week, SMU finds themselves at 8-10 overall and 1-3 in Conference USA, moving them into eighth place in conference standings.
Derek Williams scored a game-high 27 points, giving him his third consecutive 20-plus point game. Williams finished the night shooting 9-14 in field goals and a near-perfect 8-9 from the line.
Despite having just four years of what head coach Matt Doherty calls “organized basketball,” the 6-foot-1-inch guard from New York is just in his second season at SMU and has already established himself as the team’s leading scorer with a 17 point per game average.
SMU gained an early and commanding lead, only allowing the Huskies to come within 10 points throughout the game. As Houston Baptist (3-14) closed the gap from a 19-point lead down to just 10 points, SMU’s defense stepped up, posting a season-high six blocks courtesy of Papa Dia, Frank Otis and Robert Nyakundi.
In the end of the first half, SMU held a 38-25 lead, capped off with a dunk by Justin Haynes with three seconds remaining. The final minutes of the game ended in a similar fashion, as Mouhammad Faye connected off a pass from teammate Paul McCoy for the team’s second dunk of the night.
However, despite holding onto the lead, Doherty said he was still left unsatisfied as time expired.
“It’s nice to win. I was hoping for more,” Doherty said. “I’m never satisfied as a coach. You just want to keep your foot on the gas pedal and not let up. I don’t think we got better today. We won the game, but I don’t think we got better.”
Making what could be argued an even larger contribution to the team’s win was Nyakundi with a career-high 20 points, including a perfect 5-5 in three pointers.
After missing five games at the start of the season with a heel injury, Nyakundi returned in mid-December making an immediate impact with his 6-foot-8-inch presence.
“Having Robert back has helped,” Doherty said. “I think you see now why he’s such an important part of the team.”
SMU closed out the game shooting 56 percent from the field, making it the fourth time in the past five games the team has shot over 50 percent. Saturday’s win also marked the second straight game in which two Mustang players have scored at least 20 points in one game.
The Mustangs will resume conference play on Wednesday when they host the University of Central Florida Knights (10-9, 2-3) at 7 p.m. in Moody Coliseum.