Redhawks will try to end skid at EKU

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Southeast will try to sweep the Colonels and end its nine-game losing streak.

RICHMOND, Ky. -- There haven't been many good memories for Southeast Missouri State this season, but one of the best came early in the Ohio Valley Conference schedule.

On Jan. 2 in Cape Girardeau, the Redhawks beat defending OVC tournament champion Eastern Kentucky 68-62. They followed that with a win at Eastern Illinois to improve to 3-4 in OVC play.

Since then, it's been nothing but hard times for the Redhawks (6-16, 3-13), who carry a nine-game losing streak into today's 11 a.m. rematch at Eastern Kentucky (10-13, 7-8).

"We had one of our better games of the season against Eastern Kentucky the first time we played them," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "We really need a win bad. We need something good to happen."

The Redhawks, who have their longest losing streak on the Division I level, have virtually no chance of making the OVC tournament. Only the top eight teams qualify, and Southeast is last among 11 squads with four conference games remaining.

But the Redhawks would at least like to escape the league's basement, where they found themselves following Thursday's 62-59 loss at Morehead State, which vaulted above Southeast in the standings.

"We know we probably can't make the tournament, but we can still keep playing hard and try to get some wins," Southeast senior guard Roy Booker said. "I know we'll keep playing hard. We won't quit. We just need to get a win."

EKU could also use a victory. After surging toward the top of the OVC standings recently, the Colonels have lost four straight to fall into a seventh-place tie. But they are still very much in the running for a top-four conference finish, which means a home game in the tournament. "Their backs are kind of against the wall, so I know they'll come out really strong," Garner said. "They can still finish fourth and get a home game, but they need to start winning again."

The Colonels feature one of the OVC's best backcourts in senior guards Matt Witt and Jason McLeish, who rank third and fourth in the league in scoring with averages of 18.3 and 17.5 points per game, respectably.

"Their guards are very good," Garner said.

Today will mark Southeast's final conference road game of the season. The Redhawks' final three OVC home contests are at home.

"We just want to win some games," Redhawks senior center Waylon Francis said.

Already down to seven available scholarship players, Southeast received another blow Thursday night when junior guard Terrick Willoughy injured his left shoulder and missed most of the second half. Willoughby is regarded as questionable for today.

"We really need Terrick," Garner said. "We're shorthanded enough as it is. We sure can't have anything else happen."

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