DALLAS (SMU) – Junior forward Destynee Hives-McCray led the Mustangs with 17 points and 15 boards, as the SMU women’s basketball team defeated UTEP, 63-59, on Sunday at Moody Coliseum.
“Overall, I thought we played more as a team this game,” said head coach Rhonda Rompola. “The key was hitting shots early. If you don’t hit shots early you tighten up, especially with so many youngsters. The difference is we played with more poise and confidence.”
SMU (1-1) went ahead 61-59 on a Keely Froling jumper with 1:23 remaining and then played stingy defense in the final minute, forcing a UTEP turnover with two seconds on the clock.
Froling finished with 14 points and six boards, while her twin sister, Alicia, added 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Sophomore guard Morgan Bolton was the catalyst for SMU’s offense, tallying a career-high seven assists, including four in the first four minutes of play.
UTEP (1-1) relied heavily on the three-ball, firing 32 shots from beyond the arc. However, the Miners connected on just nine of those 32 attempts. Junior guard Cameasha Turner led UTEP with a team-high 21 points.
In the first half, the Mustangs went on an 8-2 run in the final
three minutes, giving them the 39-33 lead at the break.
UTEP came out strong after halftime, putting together a 9-0 rally to take a 42-39 lead early in the second half.
After a slow start to the second half, Hives-McCray would take over, as the Arlington, Texas, native recorded 11 points and nine rebounds in the second half alone.
“Her pursuit of the ball is really good,” said Rompola. “Those rebounds didn’t just fall into her hands.”
SMU and UTEP would trade baskets throughout the second half, but it was Keely Froling’s basket with less than a minute and a half to go that proved to be the decider.
“Tonight, we battled,” Rompola said. “The 51-32 rebounding edge, that was the biggest stat for me.”