Lyles smashes OVC rebounding record in victory

Friday, December 8, 2006

The senior grabbed 32 rebounds in a 67-53 victory over Tennessee State.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Southeast Missouri State had a fairly choppy performance Thursday night in its Ohio Valley Conference opener.

But with senior center Lachelle Lyles grabbing virtually every rebound in sight, it hardly mattered.

Lyles, the OVC's leading rebounder, pulled down a conference-record 32 rebounds during a 67-53 victory over host Tennessee State (1-3).

"She is just relentless, and such a competitor," Southeast acting head coach John Ishee said. "She was a monster on the boards tonight."

The Redhawks (3-3) began defense of their OVC title one day after learning that head coach B.J. Smith would not return to their bench.

The university officially announced Smith's resignation on Wednesday, and the players were informed that night prior to a practice at TSU's Gentry Center. Smith had been placed on indefinite leave prior to the season.

"I don't think it really affected us because we pretty well knew he wasn't coming back," Lyles said. "We just wanted to focus on the game."

Lyles' previous career-high rebounding performance as a college player was 20 -- accomplished during the 2003-04 season when she was a freshman at Chicago State.

The 6-foot-2 Lyles' previous Southeast-high had been 15 rebounds, this year against Florida State.

She shattered both figures Thursday, also breaking the previous OVC record of 28 rebounds that had stood since the 1977-78 season.

Lyles is now fourth on the NCAA's all-time single-game rebounding list, as she had the first 30-rebound performance of any player in 20 years.

"I love rebounding," said Lyles, who was one of the OVC's top rebounders last year coming off the bench as she averaged 7.5 in league play. "It's my specialty."

Lyles, who entered the contest ranked 12th nationally in rebounding, is now averaging 14.3 boards per game. She scored 13 points Thursday for her second double-double of the season.

Lyles said a conversation with assistant coach Lisa Pace prior to the game -- Pace works with Southeast's post players -- helped inspire her.

"Coach Pace told me I was No. 12 in the nation. I told her that was too low," said a smiling Lyles, in her second year at Southeast after transferring from junior college. "She told me to go after every one. I want to lead the nation."

Junior forward Missy Whitney also had a double-double for the Redhawks with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Sonya Daugherty, making her first career start, matched her career high with 13 points. Sophomore guard Tarina Nixon added 12 points.

The Redhawks shot just 37.7 percent (23 of 61) and committed 24 turnovers. But they had a 69-49 rebounding advantage and held TSU to 22.9-percent shooting (19 of 83).

A tight first half ended with an 8-0 run by the Redhawks as they grabbed a 32-25 halftime lead.

Southeast used a 10-4 burst at the outset of the second half to go ahead 42-29.

Although Southeast could never totally shake the improved Tigers, who went winless last year, the Redhawks also were never threatened after going ahead by double digits. Their biggest lead was 15 points several times.

"We could have played better, but any road win is a good win," Ishee said.

The contest was marred a bit for Southeast when Nixon injured an ankle in the final 10 minutes. She did not return to the court.

"She sprained it pretty good, but I think she could have gone back in if we would have needed her," Ishee said.

Southeast concludes its two-game OVC road trip Saturday at Tennessee Tech (1-6, 0-2).

The teams tied for last year's OVC regular-season title, but the Redhawks won the league tournament to make the program's first NCAA Division I tournament appearance.

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