Women’s basketball wins Travis Mays’ head coaching debut

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Photo Credit: SMU athletics

The first of two head coaching debuts in Moody Coliseum Friday ended with a win.

SMU women’s basketball beat Texas State 64-56 Friday afternoon in Travis Mays’ first game as coach. The Mustangs overcame a first half in which they shot just 21.2 percent, scoring 39 points in the second half.

Mikayla Reese helped SMU pull away in the fourth quarter. After Texas State shrunk an 8-point deficit to two points, she made two 3-pointers in a 40-second span to give SMU a 53-47 lead with 5:30 left. SMU led by at least five the rest of the game. The junior finished with 11 points and made three of SMU’s five 3-pointers.

“The shots Mikayla made at the beginning of the second half could be the difference in the game,” Mays said. “She created a little separation between us and Texas State to give us some space to make some substitutions to get some players who were in foul trouble or a little fatigued a chance to get to the bench.”

Reese and sophomore forward Dai’ja Thomas, both coming off the bench, scored 11 points each. Thomas played a team-high 31 minutes and grabbed 10 rebounds. Mays wanted to play her a lot because Texas State’s forwards and centers moved around a lot. He liked the matchup with Thomas better than with centers Stephanie Collins or Klara Bradshaw.

“What you guys saw today was something I had been seeing consistently from Dai’ja,” Mays said. “Dai’ja was confident, she had put in her work and she proved it.”

Junior Alicia Froling, a preseason second-team all-AAC selection, led all scorers with 15 points and also grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. SMU had 51 rebounds overall, 19 of which were offensive. Eleven of SMU’s offensive rebounds came in the first half, when the teams combined to shoot 23 percent.

“When you’re struggling shooting the ball, the only way you can gain confidence is if your teammates go and get you offensive rebounds,” Mays said. “If you shoot the ball and the other team gets it and runs in transition on the other end, it strips away your confidence.”

About 2,000 elementary school students from Dallas ISD schools attended Friday’s game. They repeatedly broke out chants of “S-M-U” during the game.

“That’s what you want the experience to be. I thought they saw something on the court from our young ladies that they’ll want to come back and see again.”

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