'Hawks even OVC mark with victory over Gamecocks

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Freshman Tarina Nixon scored a career-high 21 points as Southeast triumphed 83-76.

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team was at least able to stop the bleeding Tuesday night.

Southeast, which had dropped two straight Ohio Valley Conference games for the first time since the 2003-04 season, got back on the winning track by beating host Jacksonville State 83-76.

The Redhawks (5-5, 2-2 OVC) thus salvaged one victory on their two-game conference road trip to Alabama, after they had lost at Samford on Sunday afternoon.

"We really needed this one," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said. "It's a big road win."

Southeast received another impressive performance from rapidly improving freshman guard Tarina Nixon, who has started the past six games.

Nixon was one of the bright spots during Sunday's 91-76 loss at Samford, scoring a Southeast career-high 17 points.

Against JSU (2-8, 0-4), Nixon fell just one short of that total -- in the first half alone. She hit all four of her 3-point attempts on her way to 16 points in the opening period.

Nixon wound up with a new career high of 21 points, making five of seven 3-pointers and eight of 12 from the field overall. She entered the contest as Southeast's best long-range shooter, nailing 48 percent from beyond the arc.

"Tarina really played well," Smith said. "She's a good freshman, and she'll get better."

Said Nixon: "Offensively, I'm starting to come around. My shot is falling. Defensively, I can do a lot better. But it's all going to come together."

Senior center Tatiana Conceicao scored 20 points for Southeast, while senior point guard Wanika Owsley added 11 points and five assists.

The Redhawks also got a major lift off the bench from junior college transfer center Lachelle Lyles, who had her first Southeast double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Lyles was a major reason why the Redhawks held a 45-33 rebounding advantage.

"She was a monster," Smith said. "I thought she was the difference in the second half."

Tuesday's up-tempo first half ended with the Redhawks on top 53-44, even though they trailed by eight points midway through the period.

Freshman guard as Chytearra Kintchen made both of her 3-point attempts in the half.

"Chytearra came in and gave us a nice spark," Smith said.

The Redhawks shot 56.8 percent in the opening period and made seven of 14 3-pointers, while the Gamecocks shot 56.3 percent and hit five of nine from beyond the arc.

Both defenses tightened up considerably in the second half, as each team shot no better than 40 percent.

"I thought I was being stubborn in the first half, trying to stay in our press and doing some things. It just wasn't working," Smith said. "We made some adjustments at the half and stopped a lot of their fast breaks."

Nixon's 3-pointer a minute into the final period put Southeast up 56-44 as the Redhawks appeared poised to run away from the Gamecocks.

They eventually did, although not right away.

Trailing 57-44, the Gamecocks used a 9-0 run to close within 57-53. They were still hanging around at 59-55 when Southeast scored 10 straight points to make it 69-55 with under nine minutes remaining.

The Gamecocks got no closer than 12 points until the final 30 seconds, and they actually pulled to within seven in the final 20 seconds, although they never seriously threatened to overhaul the Redhawks, whose biggest lead was 17 points.

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