Sports: Dia wins DPOY award, leads Mustangs to C-USA tourney

Papa DiaDia’s big day: SMU senior forward Papa Dia (pictured right) received the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year award on Tuesday, March 8, for his stellar contributions throughout the 2010-11 season. Dia played a key role in earning SMU its highest wins total since 2002-03 (17), its highest C-USA wins total (8) and a No. 7 seed in the C-USA tournament. Dia was also named to the C-USA All-Defensive Team, and is considered a finalist for the C-USA Player of the Year award. This is the second time a Mustang has won the DPOY award – the other was Jon Koncak in 1984-85, when SMU was playing in the Southwest Conference.

All or nothing: The No. 7 men’s basketball team will play No. 10 Rice in the first round of the C-USA tournament at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 9 at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. The Mustangs (17-13, 8-8 C-USA) are the favorites to defeat the sub-.500 Owls (13-17, 5-11 C-USA) for a shot at No. 2 Tulsa the following day. (The rapid-paced tournament will take place from the 9th to the 12th, so here’s a handy C-USA bracket to keep track of the Mustangs during the week.) If the Mustangs win the tournament, they will receive an automatic bid (and their most likely shot) in the NCAA March Madness bracket, so stay tuned over this weekend.

Robert LambethWomen’s team seeks return to glory: Two years removed from the 2008 C-USA Tournament victory, the women’s basketball team is also headed to El Paso to play host college UTEP in the first round of this year’s tournament. The Mustangs swept the series with the Miners this year, winning both games. The game will be at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 9 in the Memorial Gym, so it’ll ultimately be up to Mustang fans to decide which SMU team to support for the first round. The Lady ‘Stangs are 5-3 in the past four years of the tournament.

Men’s tennis embraces the streak: Southern Miss received a surprise on Tuesday, March 9 as the men’s tennis squad obliterated their rival 7-0 to mark a three-game winning streak. With their victory at Turpin Tennis Center, the Mustangs are now 6-5 on the season. Among the highlights was an impressive 6-0, 6-0 victory by sophomore Robert Lambeth (pictured left) over opponent Michael Sims, the only shutout of the day’s events. On Thursday, March 10, SMU will host Abilene Christian and Xavier at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m, respectively. Both games will be played at the Turpin Tennis Center.

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