MINNEAPOLIS (SMU) – SMU senior Keena Mays scored 34 points, setting the single-season program record for scoring, but the Mustangs could not overcome an early deficit to Minnesota, falling 77-70 in the second round of the WNIT at Williams Arena on Sunday.
SMU (18-14) trailed by as many as 19 early in the second half, but was able to pull within two possessions in the final minutes of the game. Mays scored 24 of her 34 points in the second half to spur SMU’s comeback, including 12 points in a four-minute span that saw SMU go on a 16-4 run to pull within four, 74-70, with 1:05 to go.
Gabrielle Wilkins blocked a jumper by Minnesota’s Joanna Hedstrom with 39 seconds left, but Hedstrom gathered her own rebound to keep SMU at bay. Kiara Perry then stole the ball, leading to a chance for Korina Baker at the other end. Baker’s jump shot missed, and the Gophers’ Mikayla Bailey collected the rebound and was fouled.
Bailey hit both free throws, and Mays missed a three-pointer five seconds later, with
the rebound going back into the hands of Bailey. Bailey added one more made free throw, and SMU could not convert at the offensive end again before the buzzer.
Minnesota led 46-29 at halftime, making 50 percent of its field goals in the opening frame. SMU held the Gophers to 31 points in the second period, outscoring Minnesota by 10. SMU forced 15 turnovers, scoring 15 points off the Minnesota giveaways.
Mays finished the game with nine rebounds to go with her scoring outburst. Perry scored 13 points and collected six rebounds in 33 minutes, while Akil Simpson (five points, six rebounds), Mallory Singleton (seven points, four rebounds), Korina Baker (five points, six assists) and Krystal Johnson (one rebound in six minutes) all played their final game as Mustangs. All five Minnesota starters scored in double-figures, led by Sari Noga, who tallied 22.
Mays ends her season with 691 points, breaking the previous single-season record held by head coach Rhonda Rompola by eight points. Simpson finishes her career with 1,234 points, ranking her 13th all-time at SMU.
The second round appearance in the WNIT marked the deepest postseason run for SMU since advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2000. SMU has advanced to the postseason in 13 of the last 21 seasons during Rompola’s tenure as head coach.