With the Ohio Valley Conference season less than two weeks away for Southeast Missouri State's women's basketball team, playing on short rest will soon become the norm for the Redhawks.
So while the Redhawks would have liked to come out of the Healthpoint Plaza Thanksgiving Classic played on Friday and Saturday with a pair of wins, the test it gave Southeast should come in handy once OVC play hits.
"It will definitely," Southeast senior forward Simone Jackson said. "Playing back-to-back nights just basically takes being mentally prepared. It takes a toll on our bodies, but if we're mentally prepared everything will fall into place."
The Redhawks showed they were mentally prepared on Saturday, shaking off a tough 90-87 double overtime loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday to knock off NCAA Division II Henderson State on Saturday 79-66. Southeast has nonconference games against Southern Illinois and Wisconsin-Milwaukee before beginning OVC play at home against Tennessee State on Dec. 8.
Southeast coach B.J. Smith said games like the two Southeast played in the Thanksgiving Classic will help prepare the Redhawks, but he wished his team could have played better exhibition games to push his team.
"I wish we had scheduled tougher exhibition games because we didn't get this," he said. "These two games were good for us."
Southeast senior center Tatiana Conceicao, the reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, poured in 51 points over the two-game Healthpoint Plaza Thanksgiving Classic, including a career-high 30 on Saturday against Henderson State.
Conceicao said she did not realize she was approaching a career high during the game on Saturday.
"It was just the flow of the game," she said.
Conceicao, who came into the Classic averaging 14.5 points through two games, led the Redhawks in scoring in both games over the weekend. During the last two games, Conceicao shot a combined 18-of-31 from the floor (58 percent). Conceicao has also hit 14-of-18 free throws.
Smith said Conceicao has not yet hit her stride this season.
"Tatiana hasn't played as well as she could right now," he said. "She's getting double and triple teamed, and she has to get better on defense."