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Sycamores stand tall against Mustangs

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Indiana State built a big first half lead and held off a second-half charge from SMU to win 64-55. Chelsea Small led all scorers with 20 points, adding a team-high seven rebounds. Gabrielle Wilkins led SMU with 13 points off the bench, with Morgan Bolton and Alicia Froling each chipping in 10. For stark contrasts, blue shoes, rebuses, families, rebounding, social obligations, runaway headbands, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand twins, join your intrepid and referential blogger after the jump.

Two! Two games today! Pretty much everyone has left, though, since most folks in New York really don't have any strong connection to SMU and Indiana State. Some Johnnies are roaming the crowd. I think Jade Walker has family here.

Our Buffalo Bulls are still here, grooving out to the sound of the music.

Jade Walker with a small child breaks the cuteness scale in ways I previously thought only Ashley Battle could manage. (No, fingers, Ashley Walker breaks a different cuteness scale, just ask Natasha Lacy.)

Perhaps appropriately enough, Jasmine Grier is rocking the flattop. I also approve of Racheal Mahan's team-blue ponytail.

We have a few fans here for each team, and I salute them. One of the Indiana State shirts is about as Exactly What It Says On The Tin as possible: an image of the state of Indiana and the word State. Kind of like a rebus.

Though they arrived late, I think we were sitting behind Morgan Bolton of SMU's parents. They cheered for everyone, but the guy's camera was tracking her pretty closely when she was on the floor.

At halftime, Indiana State is up 37-17, and to be honest, it should probably be more. SMU does not look good. Indiana State is rebounding very well, and I'd like to see them go inside more. Chelsea Small looks really good. (Buffalo, like many people in the crowd, left at the half.)

Indiana State rolled pretty deep, a thought that terrifies me for tomorrow. Cierra Ceazer seemed like the odd woman out, in the sense that while she was excellent offensively, she didn't seem as inclined to crash the boards as her teammates were, and there was a lot of board crashing going on. Jasmine Grier of the awesome flattop had a very complex shot, which didn't go in as often as she would have liked, but she was tough on the boards and had a huge block in the first half. Alexis Newbolt brought a little bit of offense as part of the first line of subs in both halves. We saw a little bit of Lashonda Littleton on the boards. You'd think I'd remember a player who had four turnovers, but I don't remember much about Kelsey Dirks. She might have been the one with the happy feet, though. Rhagen Smith popped some pretty jumpers.

Natasha Zurek and her face mask showed toughness and poise running the offense. Rachael Mahan and her rocket-contrail hair worked the boards hard and got buckets on the inside. Stephanie Wittman left no impression. Travecia Franklin got herself in foul trouble late in the game, and I feel like I should remember more of what she did. I was very impressed with Chelsea Small, who showed stroke both inside and outside, as well as rebounding moxie.

Indiana State crashed the boards hard and consistently. Pretty much everyone was either rebounding or boxing out. I love it. I would love it more if we didn't have to face them tomorrow.

SMU also went deep into their bench, running some interesting three-guard sets once Destynee Hives-McCray got into foul trouble. Gabrielle Wilkins played big minutes and caught a brief case of what Mike Lupica memorably referred to in his novels as Wanna Be The Man disease- late in the game, she kept taking the shots, even when she didn't have the best shot. Maybe this is normal for her and for her team, but it wasn't working. Stephanie Collins had a rough first half, but seemed to find her feet in the second half, using her height to disrupt Indiana State's plans on the inside. Taylor Brame was a big body in the middle, but possibly not one at 100%- she spent one timeout being intensely stretched. Variations on the three-guard set included Mikayla Reese in the first half and Aurmani DeGar in the second half, with mixed results- Reese was ineffective, while DeGar followed a sweet basket with a dumb foul.

I didn't just like Morgan Bolton because I was pretty sure we were sitting behind her parents. She stepped up big in the second half, even if she did get stuck holding the bag for the intentional fouls at the end of the game. She had a nice pass to Wilkins for a three. Destynee Hives-McCray makes too many fundamental mistakes for a redshirt junior, but she's a strong presence on the inside- when she's in the game. Foul trouble forced her out, and I was impressed at how SMU adjusted without her. Kiara Perry had distractingly bad handles for a guard- a guard consistently losing her dribble is a pet peeve of mine, and one of the few I tend to notice with guards. I do not like Keely Froling and her elbows. I like Alicia Froling's shooting, but I don't like her elbows either.

There are a lot of freshmen on SMU. There is a bit of a learning curve. The first half demonstrated what happens when a team full of freshmen runs headlong into a team full of seniors. The second half demonstrated what happens when a good coach takes those freshmen in hand.

Officials were solid but had some bonehead mistakes. When the SMU parents in front of you are side-eying the jump ball call in SMU's favor, and when they say it should have been a lane violation on Froling, you might have missed the call. They were also odd with the travels, calling shuffles and spin moves, but not football-style drives. (I am also curious if Cynthia Brooks is related to Denise Brooks- they look a lot alike.)

I am intrigued by both of these teams, and glad that they came out to New York.