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SMU upsets No. 4 Colorado State 65-49, wins final
Posted: Saturday March 06, 1999 09:08 PM
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Southern Methodist coach Rhonda Rompola doesn't have to sit and wait this year.
Four of the last five years, the Mustangs have had to wait for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. This year, SMU earned an automatic bid with a 65-49 upset of fourth-ranked Colorado State in the Western Athletic Conference tournament finals Saturday.
"This is a position I've never been in," Rompola said. "Every year we've been on the bubble and sitting on the edge of our seats hoping our name would pop up. Now we can sit and relax Sunday."
The Mustangs (19-10) ended the Rams' 19-game winning streak by holding Colorado State (31-2) to a season-low 24 percent shooting and outrebounding the Rams 49-30.
"Their goal was to keep Becky (Hammon) out of the lane," Colorado State coach Tom Collen said. "We can't live and die off that 3-point shot and it's pretty tough to rely on that all night long."
Hammon, a three-time WAC Player of the Year, was held to 13 points on 4-for-16 shooting. She averaged 23 points per game this season and 26 in WAC games. Katie Cronin also had 13 points for Colorado State.
"The shots just didn't go in," Hammon said. "I actually got some good looks. It was just one of those nights, I just wish the timing could have been different."
The Rams will likely be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed when the NCAA tournament begins.
"I never felt we'd be a No. 1 seed, and I don't think there's a big difference between No. 1 and 2 and No. 2 and 3," Collen said. "The [NCAA] committee very seldom punishes a team that lost in the conference championship game."
Colorado State had beaten the Mustangs twice this season, 74-67 and 69-52. The latter loss at Colorado State on Feb. 14 was SMU's last defeat this season. The Mustangs have won 13 of their last 14 games.
"Since that game at Fort Collins, we've picked up our game tremendously," Rompola said. "The girls were so ready for this game. I've never seen the fire in their eyes like I saw today."
The Mustangs jumped out early and never let Colorado State back in the game, building a 40-25 halftime lead.
Trailing 10-6 with 15:26 to play in the first half, SMU went on a 20-2 run the next 10 minutes to build a 26-12 lead. Jennifer Rigg started the run with five straight points and Nici Johnson added five and Karlin Kennedy four during the run.
SMU held Colorado State without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in the first half.
Kennedy, named the tournament's most valuable player, finished with 23 points and seven rebounds. Claudia Brassard had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Johnson added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Hammon, who opened Colorado State's scoring with a 3-pointer 40 seconds into the game, didn't get her second basket until a 3-pointer for the Rams' final points of the half with 45 seconds left.
"There's a lot more teams sitting out with their season done, so we're looking at it as a positive," Hammon said. "Now, everybody's 0-0 and you can throw the records out."
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