Hot Links: Three Mustang teams earn C-USA titles

SMU Women's Basketball Coach Rhonda Rompola cuts the net

The women’s basketball team defeated UTEP 78-65 to win its first Conference USA championship Feb 28, 2009. Four players scored in the double digits: junior guards Brittany Gilliam and Jillian Samuels (with a game-high 24 points and 19 points, respectively); sophomore guard LaShandra Hill with 11 points; and first-year center Christine Elliott, who posted her 2nd consecutive double-double with 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

Gilliam, with 71 steals for the season, was named the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, as well as to the All-Conference Second Team and All-Defensive Team. Junior forward Delisha Wills joined Gilliam on the All-Conference Second Team, and Elliott was named to the All-Freshman Team, as well as Rookie of the Week for the week of March 2. Elliott had 21 rebounds against Tulane on Feb. 26, setting a new SMU record for a freshman and tying the school record for rebounds by any player set by Felicia Bluitt in 1986 against TCU. Elliott also tied for the second-highest total in any Conference USA game.

The team begins play in the 2009 C-USA tournament at noon March 6 in New Orleans. The Mustangs enter as the No. 1 seed. (Above, Head Coach Rhonda Rompola cuts the last string of the net after the UTEP game.) Read more.

SMU diver Matthew CulbertsonMeanwhile, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have each won their 13th consecutive conference championships. In the men’s competition, the Mustangs won 15 events and set 9 meet records on their way to the overall victory in the CRWC Natatorium at the University of Houston Feb. 25-28, 2009. Individual titleists included junior Thomas Fadnes (50 free, 100 free); junior Pontus Renholm (100 back, 200 back); junior Edward Downes (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 fly); and sophomore Matthew Culbertson (top left), who swept the one-meter springboard, three-meter springboard and platform diving events.

In addition, 5 relay teams finished first. Renholm, Fadnes and seniors Grega Plevelj and Luka Vrtovec won the 200 medley relay. Downes, first-year swimmers Robin Andreasson and Walter Rumans and junior Maverick Smalley won the 800 free relay. Renholm, Plevelj, Downes and Fadnes titled in the 400 medley relay. Fadnes, Vrtovec, Andreasson and Renholm swam to a new C-USA meet record, season-best, and NCAA “B” provisional-qualifying time of 1:18.35 in the 200 free relay. Finally, Andreasson, Vrtovec, Rumans and Fadnes won the 400 free relay. Read more.

SMU swimmer Petra KlosovaIn the women’s meet – also in Houston’s CRWC Natatorium Feb. 25-28, 2009 – the Mustangs swept the medal stand in two events. Seniors Petra Klosova (right) and Candace Blackman, with sophomore Sascha Van den Branden, finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 100 free. Senior Jennifer Basel and juniors Devon Callaghan and Justine Clark took gold, silver and bronze in the 200 IM. Klosova also finished first in the 100 back with a season-best time of 53.82. Other individual titleists included Callaghan (100 breast), Van den Branden (50 free), first-year swimmer Raminta Dvariskyte (200 breast), first-year swimmer Therese Svendsen (200 back), and sophomore Elzanne Werth (100 fly).

The women’s team also titled in 5 relays. Svendsen, Klosova, Werth and Callaghan won the 200 medley relay. Blackman, Van den Branden, Klosova and freshman Christy-Leigh Lategan won the 800 free relay in 7:07 – 11 seconds ahead of second-place Rice. Svendsen, Callaghan, Werth and Klosova touched in at 3:34.62 in the 400 medley relay, a full 4 seconds faster than the record they set last season. Blackman, Van den Branden, Werth and Klosova titled in the 200 free relay. Finally, Blackman, Van den Branden, Werth and Klosova set another meet record and NCAA provisional qualifying time of 3:17.00 in the 400 free relay. Read more.

SMU golfer Marc SambolThe men’s golf team won the 2009 Northwood Spring Invite March 3 at Thorntree Country Club, carding a team total of 603 to defeat host Northwood by 13 strokes. Leading the Mustangs was first-year player Marc Sambol (bottom left) with a two-stroke victory over Benjamin Belfield of Northwood. All five SMU golfers finished in the top 8 of the 2-day event, with freshman Aaron Stewart and senior Frank Wrenn tying for 3rd, first-year Matt Schovee tying for 6th and sophomore Nicholas Soglanich taking 8th. Read more.

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