Dia Leads Mustangs to 94-83 Win at Home over Houston

February 27, 2010  

SMU forward Papa Dia dunks the ball in Saturday night's game against the Houston Cougars. Dia had a career-high 31 points as SMU defeated Houston 94-83 at Moody Coliseum. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

SMU forward Papa Dia dunks the ball in Saturday night's game against the Houston Cougars. Dia had a career-high 31 points as SMU defeated Houston 94-83 at Moody Coliseum. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The men’s basketball team, needing a win Saturday to keep its postseason hopes alive, had five players score more than 10 points in a well-balanced 94-83 victory over the University of Houston at Moody Coliseum.

Junior forward Papa Dia led the Mustangs (14-14, 7-7 Conference USA) with a career-high 31 points and 12 rebounds, good for his eighth double-double of the season.

Senior forward Mouhammad Faye picked up his second double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Sophomore forward Robert Nyakundi and senior guard Derek Williams each scored 18 points while Williams recorded a game-high eight assists, and sophomore guard Rodney Clinkscales went 4-for-6 from the three-point line to finish with 12 points.

SMU guard Derek Williams advances the ball past the half-court line in Saturday night's game against the Houston Cougars. SMU defeated Houston 94-83 at Moody Coliseum. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

SMU guard Derek Williams advances the ball past the half-court line in Saturday night's game against the Houston Cougars. SMU defeated Houston 94-83 at Moody Coliseum. (PHOTO BY JULIUS PICKENPACK / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

“It was a lot of fun,” head coach Matt Doherty said. “Needless to say, it’s a huge game for us.”

The Cougars (14-14, 6-8 C-USA) had beaten the Mustangs nine straight times heading into Saturday’s matchup, including a 66-60 win over SMU two weeks ago in Houston.

“We haven’t beat Houston since I’ve been here,” Dia said. “This year we had a great chance to beat them, so it was kind of exciting to see that we’ve gotten better throughout the years.”

Behind the hot shooting of senior guard Aubrey Coleman, the nation’s leading scorer with 25.7 points per game, the Cougars led 39-33 at halftime.

In the second half, however, the Mustang offense came alive to shoot 16-for-24 from the field and score 61 points to help secure the comeback win.

“I thought that our guys were a little frustrated at the end of the first half,” Doherty said. “I think they were a little discouraged, so I challenged them a little bit to keep up their chin and go out there and work hard and things will turn around, and they certainly did.”

Williams stepped up to score 16 second-half points with four assists and four rebounds while Dia and Nyakundi each added 15 points after the intermission.

The trio also combined to go 19-for-21 from the free throw line in the second half.

“We were just able to hit a lot of shots today,” Williams said. “Obviously we’re capable of scoring that many points when we want to.”

The Mustangs have put together an 8-4 record since a 73-65 win at Rice on Jan. 20, and Saturday’s victory over Houston gives the team sole possession of sixth place in the conference with two games left to play.

The top six teams will advance to the C-USA Championship Tournament beginning on Mar. 10.

SMU travels to Tulsa, Okla., for its final road game of the regular season Wednesday against the Golden Hurricane (19-9, 8-5 C-USA).

The Mustangs will host Marshall University on Saturday, Mar. 6, to close out their regular-season schedule.

Tip-off against the Thundering Herd (21-7, 9-4 C-USA) is set for 7 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

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