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Sizzling Redhawks win 7th straight
The Southeast women kept their share of first in the OVC with a 73-57 win over Austin Peay.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Once Southeast Missouri State's offense caught up to its defense, there was no stopping the Redhawks in their quest for a seventh consecutive victory.
The Redhawks, after a sluggish first half, came out on fire to start the second half and quickly turned a close game into a blowout as they routed host Austin Peay 73-57 Monday night.
Southeast, improving to 13-7 overall and 10-3 in Ohio Valley Conference play, remained tied with Tennessee Tech for first place in the 11-team OVC, although Samford lost its share of the top spot by falling at Murray State.
"It's nice to keep it [the winning streak] going," senior forward Natalie Purcell said.
The Redhawks can thank their revived second-half offense for leaving little doubt that their victory string would continue.
Southeast trailed most of the first half -- as has been the case in its last three games -- and led just 19-18 at the intermission, thanks largely to 26.9 percent shooting and 11 turnovers.
"I thought Austin Peay really got after it defensively, like Murray State did Saturday night," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said.
But the Redhawks got after it offensively in the second half and simply blitzed the Governors (9-10, 6-6).
The Redhawks hit their first seven shots of the final period -- including four 3-pointers -- and had 19 points in the opening four minutes to match their total from the entire first half.
When senior point guard Wanika Owsley hit a 3-pointer, Southeast had outscored Austin Peay 22-7 over the first 4:44 of the second half and led 41-25.
Another Owsley 3-pointer at the 12:09 mark made it 50-29 and meant the Redhawks had outscored the Govs 31-11 in less than eight minutes.
The rest was academic as Southeast's advantage never dipped under 12 points, and the Redhawks led by as many as 22 points.
"I thought that was as well as we've looked all year offensively," Smith said. "Gosh dang, we started off hot."
Southeast shot 55.6 percent in the second half, hitting 20 of 36. The Redhawks made 8 of their 12 3-point attempts in the final period, and also had just three second-half turnovers.
"We had a bad first half, but in the second half we made extra passes," senior center Tatiana Conceicao said. "The first half I think we were trying to do it ourselves too much."
Conceicao scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the second half. She hit 9 of 14 shots overall, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
Purcell missed all seven of her first-half shots, but hit her first five attempts of the final period, including three 3-pointers. She wound up with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
"We couldn't hit anything the first half. I missed so many layups, it was ridiculous," Purcell said. "It's nice to play so good in the second half, but we've got to play well from the start."
Said Smith: "In the second half Natalie stopped thinking about her shot and just started shooting. She's a lot better that way."
Owsley, after not taking a shot in the first half, made all three of her 3-point attempts in the final period to score nine points.
Senior guard Katrisha "Red" Dunn added 10 points off the bench. She had eight first-half points -- making both of her 3-point attempts -- as she helped keep Southeast's struggling offense afloat.
"Red gave us a spark in the first half," Smith said.
Dunn provided the Redhawks, who did not have a field goal in the opening 8:06 of the game, their initial lead on a 3-pointer with 4:19 left in the first half.
Southeast fell behind briefly, but another Dunn 3-pointer with 2:44 remaining put Southeast ahead for good, 17-16. It was 19-18 at the break, then the Redhawks exploded.
The Redhawks wound up shooting 43.5 percent for the game (27 of 62) and 52.6 percent on 3-pointers (10 of 19).
Southeast held a 45-34 rebounding edge and limited Austin Peay to 35.6 percent shooting (21 of 59), as the Redhawks continued the stout defense that has marked their winning streak.
Conceicao player of week
Conceicao was on Monday named the OVC player of the week for the third time this season as she scored 40 points and grabbed 11 rebounds during two Southeast wins last week.