NEW ORLEANS (SMU) – Keena Mays scored a put-back bucket off her own miss to give SMU a 55-51 lead with 2:14 left, and the Mustangs made all six of their free throws in the last 36 seconds to take a 62-56 win at Tulane in Devlin Fieldhouse Thursday night in the Conference USA opener, snapping a string of seven straight wins by the home team in the series.
Mays finished with a game-high 27 points, going 9-of-19 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line, eclipsing 20 points in five of six games this season. The junior transfer also had eight rebounds and five assists with three steals.
SMU (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) out-scored Tulane (11-3, 0-1 C-USA) 36-29 in the second half, shooting 46.2 percent, 12-of-26, while holding the Green Wave to 36.7-percent, 11-of-30. Korina Baker hit a three to start the second half, and Akil Simpson scored a fastbreak layup to give the Mustangs a four-point lead, 31-27 with 18:48 left in the game. SMU stretched the lead to five three four times during the half, which included five ties and three lead changes, before pushing the advantage to seven, SMU’s largest of the game, with 26 seconds left to seal the victory.
Over the span of 4:22 midway through the first half, the Mustangs went on a 17-3 run to take a 19-15 lead over the Green Wave with 7:07 left. Mays sparked the run with a
3-pointer with 11:29 on the clock, scoring eight points during the span. The junior gave SMU its first lead of the game, 14-13, on a pair of free throws with 8:30 to play in the first.
SMU held the Green Wave to 27 points in the first half, just one above Tulane’s season low in the first 20 minutes, trailing 27-26 at halftime after being held scoreless for the first 5:40 of the game. The Mustangs shot 33.3 percent in the first half, making 10-of-30 from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Mays led all scorers with 13 at the break. Tulane was 10-of-26 in the first half, 38.5 percent, with two 3-pointers.
Simpson grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and scored seven points for the Mustangs, and Alisha Filmore scored 11 points. Olivia Grayson led the Green Wave with 17 points and a team-high six rebounds, and Danielle Blagg scored 10. SMU held Whitney Bibbins, who came into the game seventh in C-USA averaging 15.5 points per game, to just nine points. The Mustangs out-rebounded Tulane 38-34, including a 14-11 advantage in offensive rebounds, scoring 16 second chance points to Tulane’s five.
The Mustangs return to Moody Coliseum to host UCF Sunday at 2 p.m. The SMU women’s basketball program will honor its alumni at halftime. For tickets, call 214-SMU-GAME or visit SMUMustangs.com.