SMU Men’s Basketball Loses Ground Despite Home Court Advantage

January 26, 2009  

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Coach Doherty talks to the press after his 'Stangs basketball team loses to ECU 80-74.        ( PHOTO BY ALAN ROSE / THE DAILY MUSTANG

Coach Doherty talks to the press after his Mustang basketball team loses to ECU 80-74. ( PHOTO BY ALAN H. ROSE / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

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By Robby Gillespie

rgillespie@smu.edu

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The SMU men’s basketball team just can’t find a way to win recently. After another strong offensive performance, and the second consecutive game coming down to the last minute, the Mustangs received their eleventh loss of the season and fourth in Conference USA.

East Carolina forward Darrius Morrow’s 21 points led the Pirates (10-8, 2-3 C-USA) past SMU, 80-74, Jan.24 at Moody Coliseum.

Head coach Matt Doherty said: “It’s a tough loss. I’m disappointed for my players.”

The Mustangs (6-11, 1-4 C-USA) led 62-55 half way through the second half only to see the lead slip away two minutes later when East Carolina’s James Legan sank a three pointer to go ahead by one. SMU never led again.

“We were so worried about keeping the lead and not messing up,” SMU guard Derek Williams said. “I think that’s where everybody got tight instead of just playing their game.”

The game had 12 lead changes and was tied 10 times. The Mustangs, led by 16 points each from Bamba Fall and Paul McCoy, shot 50 percent from the field and were seven for 17 from the three-point line.

Fall, who leads the Conference USA in blocks, recorded three against ECU.

“Bamba was really good. I liked his aggressiveness [and] his toughness. When he touched the ball good things happened,” Doherty said.

The Mustangs, feeding off the support of the second highest home attendance this season, jumped out to a quick six-point lead, but the game was back and forth throughout.

“I thought we had a really good start. We had a good crowd here,” Doherty said. “I wanted to win for SMU, our students, our fans, as much as I want to win for our players.”

Doherty blamed part of the loss on the Mustang’s poor defensive execution. He said there were breakdowns in the zone, which the Mustangs went to early on, as well as the man-to-man defense, which they used for most of the second half.

The defensive struggles led to the Pirates shooting 10 for 20 from the three-point line.

“We’ve got to learn from it and move forward,” Doherty said. “We’re getting there. They’re getting better. I know it’ll come.”

The Mustangs have three days to prepare before they take on Central Florida (ranked third in C-USA) Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. in Orlando.

“They’re well coached…they’re good,” Doherty said. “We’ll just have to regroup and try to win another one.

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