Redhawks look for another home win
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The first leg of Southeast Missouri State's three-game homestand went well, as the Redhawks rallied past East Tennessee State 73-68 Friday night.
But that was a nonconference contest. The final two legs will hold much more meaning, beginning with today's 2 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference matchup against Jacksonville State.
After playing the Gamecocks (4-7, 1-1), Southeast (4-4, 1-1) has another OVC game at the Show Me Center Tuesday, against preseason favorite Samford (6-3, 1-0) at 5 p.m.
"All conference games are big, and it's especially important that you win the ones at home," Southeast acting head coach John Ishee said. "We knew going in that this would be a really big week for us."
While the 20-game conference schedule has barely started, the Redhawks know it's never too early to begin stamping themselves as strong contenders as they shoot for their second consecutive OVC title.
A lot of people doubted the Redhawks entering the season, since they graduated most of their top players from last year's team that captured OVC regular-season and tournament championships.
Southeast, picked just fifth in the league's preseason poll, had a chance to make an early statement on the road, but they lost by one point to Tennessee Tech -- the squad that tied with the Redhawks for last year's OVC regular-season title.
"We should have won that game, but we can't do anything about it," said senior center Lachelle Lyles, who entered the week tied for the national rebounding lead at 14.6 boards per game and grabbed 18 more Friday. "We just have to make sure we get these two."
While Southeast has what appears to be another early-season OVC showdown Tuesday -- Samford finished only one game out of first place last year and returns four starters -- Ishee is just as wary of today's opponent.
Jacksonville State was picked just 10th among 11 teams in the OVC's preseason poll, but the Gamecocks lost by only five points to Samford while beating Tennessee-Martin by 15 points for their conference victory.
"They are a very athletic team and they will be a tough opponent for us," Ishee said. "They're a lot like East Tennessee State."
Southeast needed a late rally to beat the Buccaneers, after the Redhawks trailed by 12 points with less than 6 minutes remaining.
Jacksonville State features a balanced offensive attack with four players averaging in double figures.
Latonya McKinney, a 5-foot-6 sophomore guard, leads the way at 12.9 points per game, with 5-7 junior guard Courtney Slaughter close behind (12.7 ppg).
Slaughter, a second-team preseason all-OVC selection, was the Gamecocks' second-leading scorer last year with a 13.2 average, while McKinney was third at 11.4.
Ashley Boykin (10.6 ppg) and Jolie Efezokhae (10.5 ppg) round out the Gamecocks' top offensive threats.
Boykin, a 5-8 sophomore guard, also averaged in double figures for Jacksonville State last year at 10.9. Efezokhae is a 6-1 freshman forward.
Slaughter, who is shooting 51.8 percent from the field overall, is also 47.6 percent from 3-point range (10 of 21).
Boykin is another dangerous 3-point threat at 42.6 percent (26 of 61).
She ranks third in the confernece in 3-pointers made per game.
Southeast hopes to have sophomore point guard Tarina Nixon back today. She missed Friday's game with an ankle injury.