'Hawks get win over defending OVC champion

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Southeast posted an 84-78 victory over nemesis Eastern Kentucky.

Eastern Kentucky won the 3-point battle Monday night -- but Southeast Missouri State hit the long-range shots that counted the most.

The result was an exciting and much-needed 84-78 victory for the Redhawks at the Show Me Center.

"We needed to win this game," senior center Tatiana Conceico said.

Southeast improved to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play.

EKU, which won last year's OVC regular-season and tournament titles -- beating Southeast in double-overtime during the conference tournament finals -- fell to 3-9 overall and 3-2 in the league.

"This is a huge win," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said. "We have not had a lot of success against Eastern Kentucky since I've been here. They were 3-1 in the conference and very much in the race. This is one we had to have."

Southeast drained three 3-pointers during a two-minute span late in the game to hold off the Colonels, after they had grabbed their only lead of the night with about seven minutes remaining.

Conceicao, the OVC's reigning player of the year, has improved her 3-point shooting considerably this season -- and it came in handy Monday.

Conceicao buried a 3-pointer with 3:40 remaining to put Southeast ahead to stay at 72-69.

Less than a minute later, senior point guard Wanika Owsley hit a long 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired, giving the Redhawks a 75-69 lead.

Then, with 1:40 to play, Conceicao drilled another 3-pointer for a 78-70 advantage and the Colonels got no closer than five points the rest of the way.

"The first three by Tatiana, and then the three by Wanika were huge," Smith said.

Said a smiling Conceicao, who is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range this year, on 10 of 25, "I've been practicing that shot."

Conceicao matched her career highs of 30 points and 12 rebounds. She hit nine of 16 shots overall, including two of three 3-pointers.

"She had a great game," Smith said.

Freshman guard Tarina Nixon continued her strong play, scoring 18 points. She made all three of her 3-point attempts, and is shooting nearly 57 percent (21 of 37) from long range.

"She's getting better and better," Smith said.

Senior forward Natalie Purcell added 14 points, while junior center Lachelle Lyles came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds as the Redhawks dominated the boards 51-30.

Junior center Fatai Hala'api'api scored a career high 23 points for EKU.

Southeast jumped ahead 24-10 midway through the first half, but the Colonels would not go away.

Down 42-37 at halftime and 49-39 early in the second half, the Colonels chipped away and finally grabbed their only lead, 67-66, on Hala'api'api's basket with 7:04 left.

But the Redhawks soon took control with their late barrage of 3-pointers.

"We had people step up in the middle of the game, which is what we've been needing," Smith said.

The Redhawks play at Eastern Illinois Thursday.

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