Women’s basketball beat by Huskies
In front of a record crowd in Moody Coliseum, the SMU Mustangs (16-11, 7-9 in American Athletic Conference) were looking to shock the world and avenge a loss earlier this month by defeating the nation’s no.1 team, the University of Connecticut Huskies.
Although the contest was a defensive fight for much of the first half, it was the reigning champions of women’s college basketball who came away with an 81-48 victory.
Trailing by just five after senior forward Akil Simpson layup with four minutes remaining in the first half, SMU looked to be up for the fight against the Huskies. Despite a poor shooting percentage and several turnovers, the Mustangs remained within striking distance at 22-17.
That’s when the defending national champions turned up the intensity and went on a game-clinching run.
UConn finished the half with a 15-0 run, helped in large part by three consecutive possessions by SMU that ended in turnovers and points for the Huskies.
Going into the half, the Mustangs were held to just seven made field goals and were shooting less than 22 percent overall, while their opposition was making it look easy on 15-of-24, ten of which came off assists.
“The last five minutes of the first half was really good for us,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma.
The second half was more of the same, but at least SMU made a better offensive showing. UConn outscored the Mustangs 44-31 over the final 20 minutes while holding senior Keena Mays and co. to 25 percent shooting in the game.
“I thought we finished pretty decent,” said SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola. “[UConn] just played well.”
Coming into the game, Mays was the conference’s leading scorer at nearly 21 points each contest, but the vaunted Huskie defense kept her in check and forced her into bad shots in route to 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting.
“You watch [Mays] play on tape and she plays well,” Auriemma said. “You see why she’s the leading scorer in our league. I just thought we put a lot of pressure on her tonight.”
Simpson was the only other player for SMU to reach double-digits with 11 to go along with six rebounds but also had five turnoves.
While a win would have given SMU its biggest victory possibly in the program’s history, the loss to Auriemma’s squad doesn’t spell disaster for the home team either.
The Mustangs will have to take care of business in their final two games, starting with a road contest against the University of South Florida on Saturday, and the last game of the regular season on Monday against Central Florida in Moody.
A good showing down the stretch and in the AAC tournament will at least get SMU some consideration for either the NCAA tournament or a second-consecutive National Invitational Tournament bid.