Mustangs Sign Top Local Player

April 14, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Robby Gillespie
rgillespie@smu.edu

The SMU women’s basketball team added an incoming freshmen to their roster Wednesday after Krystal Johnson signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play for the Mustangs.

Johnson, a senior at Naaman Forest High School in Garland, Texas, was selected MVP of District 10-5A and was a member of the 5A All-Region team, after averaging 17.4 points per game her senior season.

The 5-3 point guard will take over at the point guard position left open by graduating senior Jillian Samuels.

“Krystal was one of the top scorers in the Metroplex, and is a true point-guard with quickness and vision we need,” said SMU Head Coach Rhonda Rompola, who led the Mustangs to a 20-11 record last season.

The team also loses senior scoring leader Brittany Gilliam, who played in two NITs and one NCAA tournament in her time on the Hilltop.

SMU Women Fall In First Round of WNIT

March 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Robby Gillespie
rgillespie@smu.edu

The SMU women’s basketball team lost their second consecutive postseason game, 66-51, Wednesday to New Mexico in the first round of the WNIT in Albuquerque, NM, after shooting 28 percent from the field.

The Mustangs trailed by only five at halftime but were outscored 34-24 in the second half.

New Mexico (19-12, 9-7 Mountain West) finished sixth in their final conference standings, while SMU finished third in the C-USA final regular season standings.

After receiving a bye in the first round of the C-USA tournament, SMU (20-11, 10-6 C-USA) lost to UAB in the semi-finals, 64-55. The Mustangs were riding a four game win streak to finish the regular season with 20 wins for the third consecutive year, but that winning play discontinued in their next two games.

The loss marks the final game for SMU’s senior leader Brittany Gilliam, who led the Mustangs in scoring with 14.7 points per game. She scored 14 in the loss to New Mexico.

Sophomore Christine Elliot, who sat the last regular season game with an injury, earned her sixth double-double of the season with eleven points and eleven rebounds. Haley Day added 12 points and Jillian Samuels scored eleven.

The Lobos shot over 48 percent in the second half to secure the win as the Mustangs only made 35 percent of their shots in the second period. New Mexico used its hot shooting to open up a ten point lead in the first three minutes of the second half. SMU shot a near season low 28 percent for the game.

The Mustangs, who often rely on their three point shooting, finished a season worst 0-17 from behind the arc. New Mexico was knocked down eight of its 17 three-point attempts.

SMU Stumbles against UAB in Second Round of C-USA Tournament

March 9, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team fell to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, 64-55, Tuesday in the quarterfinal round of the Conference USA Championship tournament at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.

SMU (20-10, 10-7 C-USA) jumped to an 18-6 lead midway through the first half following a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Heidi Brandenburg, but the Blazers (16-14, 10-8 C-USA) went on a 12-0 run to tie the game.

Senior post Alice Severin led the Mustangs with eight first-half points, and SMU took a 25-22 lead into halftime.

After missing all five three-point attempts in the first half, however, UAB improved to shoot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second half and take the lead with over 17 minutes to play.

“They’re a very good team,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said of the Blazers in a post-game radio interview. “We just ran into some unforced errors.”

Three UAB players combined to score 60 of the team’s 64 points – senior forward Tamika Dukes (21 points) and freshmen guards Amber Jones (23) and Jala Harris (16).

The Mustangs were led by 13 points apiece from junior guard Haley Day and senior guard Jillian Samuels.

Severin finished with 10 points while sophomore post Christine Elliot scored eight points with a game-high 16 rebounds.

Senior forward Brittany Gilliam scored just four points and committed four turnovers before fouling out with 8:01 left in the game.

“When you have somebody of Brittany’s caliber sitting on the bench,” Rompola said, “it’s very difficult because it takes away some leadership, and we were missing that a little bit.”

The team will find out Monday if it is selected for the 2010 Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

Sports Blog: Women’s Basketball Senior Night

March 4, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted By Kristin Kimball

The winner Wednesday night was the women’s basketball team as they ended their season with a victory over Tulsa, 71-52. But the spotlight was on seniors Alice Severin, Jillian Samuels, and Brittany Gilliam specifically.

In true SMU fashion, the last home game of each season is dedicated to the senior athlete participants. And so they were celebrated.

Gilliam ranks seventh in SMU history with 1,437 points and is one of four players in school history to pass our more than 400 assists.

Samuels is the all-time leader in 3-point field goals at SMU with 241 shots behind the arc. She also leads the league in free throw percentage with 86.7 percent.

Severin is seventh in school history with 80 blocks and has 497 career rebounds.

The seniors finished their final regular season as Mustangs and are gearing up to compete at the Conference-USA tournament next week.

“It is shocking that they are graduating already. Al is our glue and best defensive post. BG (Brittany) is our show time. She is fun to coach and knows the game. JB (Jillian) is a class act and has always been our long-range shooter. They are going to be missed,” Assistant Coach Deneen Parker said.

Gilliam, Samuels Lead SMU to 71-52 Win Over Tulsa on Senior Night

March 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team, having secured a first-round bye in next week’s Conference USA Championship Tournament, won its 20th game of the season Wednesday with a 71-52 victory over Tulsa at Moody Coliseum.

Senior guard Brittany Gilliam led the way for SMU (20-9, 10-6 C-USA) with 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, good for her fifth double-double of the year.

Junior forward Haley Day also picked up her third double-double this season with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Golden Hurricane (12-15, 6-10 C-USA) shot just 24.7 percent on field goals in the game, including 0-for-12 on three-point attempts in the second half.

Freshman guard Alisha Filmore scored a career-high 12 points and senior guard Jillian Samuels finished with 11 points and two assists in 31 minutes.

“You rely on them,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said of her two active seniors. “They have to take over, and they did.”

Senior post Alice Severin is coming back from an injury and did not play against Tulsa, though she is expected to return for the C-USA tournament.

With Severin and sophomore post Christine Elliot unable to play, Rompola turned to sophomore Heidi Brandenburg and freshman Sarah Shelton to create an inside presence.

In her first career start, Brandenburg scored nine points with five rebounds while Shelton came off the bench for eight points and eight defensive rebounds.

“They didn’t play like two players who hadn’t played much,” Rompola said. “I saw Sarah mature as a player today. She actually rebounded with an attitude today, and that was something different.”

Gilliam, Samuels and Severin were each honored before Wednesday’s game as part of SMU Senior Night activities.

Together, the seniors have compiled 82 wins during their time on the Hilltop, tying them with the class of 2000 for the most victories over a four-year span. That was also the only other class at SMU to reach 20 wins three years in a row.

“I think that just shows what we’ve done to help this program out,” Gilliam said. “We’re just winners, you know … We don’t like to lose.”

Depending on the outcomes of two conference games Thursday, the Mustangs will enter the 2010 GMC Sierra C-USA Championship in Tulsa as the second, third or fourth seed, though their first-round bye is guaranteed.

Matchups and game times will be announced on Friday.

SMU Downs Southern Miss at Moody, 81-66

February 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team earned a first-round bye in the 2010 GMC Sierra Conference USA Championship Tournament with an 81-66 victory Sunday over the University of Southern Mississippi at Moody Coliseum.

SMU (19-9, 9-6 C-USA) was led by 22 points from junior forward Haley Day and 11 rebounds from senior guard Brittany Gilliam, who also scored 19 points against the Golden Eagles (9-19, 5-10 C-USA) for her fourth double-double of the season.

The Mustangs received 15 points from senior guard Jillian Samuels, 10 from sophomore guard Samantha Mahnesmith and a career-high 11 points and six rebounds from sophomore post Heidi Brandenburg.

“We just played better team basketball,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “We made the extra pass a couple times, we got a couple of three [pointers] off the extra pass, and I thought it was just a good team victory.”

SMU played with a short roster as posts Christine Elliot and Alice Severin recover from injuries, and at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-2, respectively, their presence near the basket was missed.

The Mustangs had a better shooting rate (25-for-55) than Southern Miss (22-for-68), but the Golden Eagles pulled down more rebounds and scored more points in the paint.

“We knew we had to pick it up because Chris [Elliot] puts up a lot of numbers,” Day said. “And so we knew with her hurt, everybody had to step up.”

Despite the limited roster, SMU led 42-32 at halftime and never trailed in the game.

“We’re a good team at home, and I don’t want our girls to ever forget that,” Rompola said. “It may not always be pretty, but we find ways to win at home, and that’s what good teams have to do.”

The Mustangs will try for their third consecutive 20-win season when they host Tulsa University in this year’s final regular-season game on Wednesday, and Rompola hopes for a better outcome against the Golden Hurricane than the 57-54 road loss on Feb. 18.

“Our start was really poor against Tulsa,” she said. “We just didn’t play well there, we didn’t hit our shots.”

Tip-off against the Golden Hurricane (12-13, 6-8 C-USA) is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Moody Coliseum.

Samuels Sets 3-Point Mark in 69-61 Win

February 25, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team, playing shorthanded while senior post Alice Severin recovers from a knee injury, needed just seven players Thursday to beat the University of Central Florida at Moody Coliseum, 69-61.

SMU (18-9, 8-6 Conference USA) was led by 17 points from senior guard Jillian Samuels, who tied and broke the school record for career three-pointers during the game against the Knights (8-15, 5-9 C-USA).

With her first trifecta of the night, Samuels tied the record of 236 set by Andrea Cossey from 2000-2004, and she moved ahead with another three-pointer at the 5:29 mark in the first half.

“Everybody kept talking about it, but I was trying not to think about it,” Samuels said.

“It was a relief that she got it in the first half,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “It’s nice to break the record, but with something like that you want to follow it up with a victory.”

Samuels added another three-pointer in the second half (No. 238), and SMU shot 7-for-19 from behind the arc in the game while UCF was just 2-for-13.

Senior guard Brittany Gilliam and junior forward Haley Day each had 13 points for the Mustangs, and Day also grabbed 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.

Sophomore post Christine Elliot pulled down eight rebounds while freshman forward Sarah Shelton went a perfect 4-for-4 shooting and contributed eight points with six rebounds in her third career start.

Without the 6-foot-3-inch Severin in the lineup, SMU was out-rebounded 48-34 by UCF, and the Knights scored 34 points in the paint to the Mustangs’ 26.

“Rebounding was a huge concern,” Rompola said. “Even though [the Knights] are small, they’re very athletic. And they’re strong, very strong under the board.”

The Mustangs remain in a third-place tie with the University of Houston (14-13, 8-6 C-USA), and they can clinch a first-round bye in the conference championship tournament with a victory Saturday against Southern Miss.

Tip-off against the Golden Eagles (9-18, 5-9 C-USA) is set for 2 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

Samuels, Gilliam Lead SMU to 74-64 Win

February 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team bounced back from Thursday’s loss at Tulsa with a 74-64 win on the road Sunday against Marshall University.

Senior guard Jillian Samuels scored a game-high 21 points for SMU (17-9, 7-6 Conference USA) while senior guard Brittany Gilliam added 17 points with six assists.

The pair also shot 50 percent (8-for-16) on three-pointers, where the Mustangs had a sizeable advantage over the Thundering Herd (14-12, 6-7 C-USA) at 52.2 percent to 21.1 percent.

Sophomore forward Christine Elliot picked up a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for SMU while guards Haley Day and Samantha Mahnesmith each scored eight points.

The Mustangs led at halftime, 36-29, and trailed Marshall just once in the second half.

Four players scored in double figures for the Thundering Herd, who were led by 16 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Tynikki Crook.

SMU will return home for the final three games of the regular season beginning Thursday against the University of Central Florida Knights (8-14, 5-8 C-USA).

Tip-off against UCF is set for 7 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

Mustangs Let Lead Slip Away, Lose 73-67

February 14, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team could not build on Friday’s win over Rice, falling to the University of Houston Cougars Sunday afternoon at Moody Coliseum, 73-67.

The Mustangs (18-8, 6-5 Conference USA) led for much of the game but saw their field-goal shooting drop from 50 percent in the first half to 27.3 percent in the second half, which let Houston (13-11, 7-4 C-USA) outscore them 38-28 after the intermission.

“We let their pressure get to us,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “We were a little rattled, and we played rattled.”

Senior guard Jillian Samuels led SMU with 17 points and sophomore post Christine Elliot grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds.

Junior Haley Day and senior Brittany Gilliam each scored 15 points for the Mustangs, and Gilliam picked up her third double-double of the season with 10 rebounds, but the pair also combined for 10 turnovers.

Houston scored 18 points off of 17 SMU turnovers in the game.

“I made some bad passes into Christine [Elliot],” Day said. “We were in control most of the game, and when it started getting closer we were all on our heels. They pretty much took us out of our offense.”

The Cougars were led by 25 points from guard Brittney Scott (including five three-pointers) and 10 rebounds from forward Lesslee Mason.

Houston also used an 18-for-21 performance from the free throw line to complete its second-half comeback.

“We can’t afford to lose any more games,” Samuels said. “We shouldn’t have lost this one. We just need to pick it up, make sure we keep on pressuring teams and don’t ever let up.”

The team now prepares for an extended weekend road trip to face Tulsa (9-13, 3-8 C-USA) on Friday and Marshall (14-11, 6-6 C-USA) next Monday, Feb. 21.

SMU will return home to take on the University of Central Florida Knights (7-13, 4-7 C-USA) on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

Mustangs Beat Rice 73-54 at Moody

February 12, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Nate Regan
nregan@smu.edu

The women’s basketball team won its sixth consecutive home game Friday with a 73-54 victory over Rice at Moody Coliseum.

Senior guard Brittany Gilliam led SMU (16-7, 6-4 Conference USA) with 24 points and two steals as the Mustangs snapped a brief two-game losing streak while avenging a 61-58 loss to the Owls (11-12, 5-5 C-USA) Jan. 28 in Houston.

SMU outscored Rice in the paint by 20 points (38-18), and head coach Rhonda Rompola said she was pleased with the team’s passion, energy and desire.

“It was our defensive energy that got us going,” she said in a post-game radio interview. “I thought we finally got our running game going a little bit more.”

Senior guard Jillian Samuels scored 16 points, including a perfect 2-for-2 on three-point attempts, and senior post Alice Severin added 10 points with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Rice was led by sophomores D’Frantz Smart and Jackie Stanley, who combined for 31 points and nine rebounds, but the rest of the team scored just 13 points on 9-of-35 from the field.

“I just thought we were more scrappy, more energetic, and we had a lot more life today,” Rompola said.

SMU will take on the second-place Houston Cougars (12-10, 6-3 C-USA) Sunday at 2 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

Prior to the game, the team will host a Fan Fest as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

The event, which will feature members of the SMU women’s basketball, golf, soccer, swimming, track and volleyball teams, will be held in the Crum Center from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and admission is included in the price of a game ticket.

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