Furious Mustang Rally Ends in Heartbreaking Defeat
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Tulsa’s Pat Swilling, Jr. sank a three-point shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to pull out a 48-47 win over SMU Sunday night in Moody Coliseum. It was Swilling’s (who is the son of former NFL linebacker Pat Swilling) sixth three-pointer of the evening, and he finished with 18 points to lead all scorers in the game. Tulsa’s record improved to 9-6, 1-0 in Conference-USA play; while SMU’s fell to 10-6 and 0-1.
Tulsa took a commanding first half lead, doubling up SMU 34-17. The Mustangs missed some shots early, then played unenthusiastically, as Tulsa out-scored SMU 11-2 over the final four minutes to extend an eight point lead well into double digits.
The Mustangs came out with a strong defensive effort in the second half to get back into the game. The Ponies held Tulsa scoreless for the first seven minutes, and held them to just six points in the first 14 minutes of the half to tie the game at 40. Jalen Jones hit a pair of free throws at 5:22 to give the Mustangs their first lead since early in the game, and extended that lead to 46-42 with 32 seconds remaining. The win looked well in hand as SMU had four fouls to give with that four point lead. However, Tulsa hit a pair of three pointers in the final 24 seconds after scoring just eight points in the first 19 minutes of the half to recapture the win that looked well in hand at halftime.
The heart breaking loss was difficult for SMU head coach Larry Brown. “If you look at the first half, you wouldn’t think they’d (SMU) ever been coached. You look at the end, it’s a terrible feeling. They (Tulsa) made two big plays at the end. When it came down to winning, we miss a free throw, we don’t handle a switch, we’ve got fouls to give, and we talked about fouls to take. We were going to foul a dribbler and they didn’t do it. Execution was bad. That’s what we’re about right now.”
“In the first half, we were selfish. We never moved the ball, took bad shots. We got out-hustled, out-worked. In the second half, we defended as well as we have all year. We played with a lot of energy. We had eight assists again, 13 turnovers. (Tulsa head coach) Danny (Manning) was smart. He zoned us. It took away Jaylen (Jones), and tried to take away Cannen (Cunningham); and let Ryan (Manuel) and Shawn (Williams) try to beat them. We didn’t get it done. Four point lead with fouls to give, 22 seconds. Unacceptable.”
“I don’t want kids to be afraid to fail. I don’t know how you change that, but we have to try. I don’t want them to get to the end of the game be afraid to make winning plays. We didn’t play the right way the first half. That was painfully obvious. The second half, we had unbelievable effort, we defended like crazy. It was wonderful, but when it comes down to the end, you can’t be afraid to fail.”
Three Mustangs scored in double digits – Jones led with 15, Cunningham had 12, and Nick Russell had 10. Russell and Cunningham led SMU with seven rebounds.
The Mustangs travel to Houston Wednesday night for a 7:00 PM tip-off with the Cougars, and return to Moody Coliseum this Saturday afternoon against Tulane.