Whitney breaks out for 36 points in victory over Jacksonville State

Monday, December 18, 2006
Southeast Missouri State's Lachelle Lyles (25) was fouled by Jacksonville State's Courtney Slaughter (23) as she shot during the second half Sunday at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

The junior led the Southeast women to a 90-83 OVC win.

Missy Whitney had been waiting for this type of performance.

Whitney has been solid in her first season at Southeast Missouri State but, like most junior college transfers, has been up and down.

But Sunday Whitney was nothing but up as she poured in 36 points to lead the host Redhawks past Ohio Valley Conference opponent Jacksonville State 90-83.

"It was bound to come sooner or later," a smiling Whitney said.

Southeast acting head coach John Ishee was happy that it came sooner rather than later because the Redhawks needed virtually all of Whitney's points to subdue the Gamecocks.

"It was a great game, and you have to give Jacksonville State credit," said Ishee after the Redhawks (5-4, 2-1) moved into sole possession of second place in the OVC. "A lot of people played well for us, and we needed everybody to win this game."

Nobody played better than Whitney, a 6-foot-2 junior forward who was an all-stater at Charleston High School and an All-American last year at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Whitney, who entered play Sunday as Southeast's second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, recorded the Redhawks first seven points on two drives to the basket and a 3-pointer.

Whitney had 18 points at halftime and added an identical total in the second half. She finished 11-of-14 from the field, including four-of-five on 3-pointers, and was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. She matched her season rebounding average with eight boards and added two blocks.

"The last game I kind of got in foul trouble. I started off a lot better today and got my confidence going," Whitney said. "When I miss a couple of shots, I'll stop shooting, but coach tells me to keep shooting. It got me in a rhythm."

Whitney's previous top scoring performance this year was 24 points against NAIA Harris-Stowe. Her top output against a Division I foe was 16 points.

"She's a very gifted offensive player and she played lights out," Ishee said. "This is the most she's looked for her shot all year."

Senior center Lachelle Lyles, the nation's top rebounder with an average of 15 per game, had her third double-double of the season with 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Lyles, who has had at least 10 rebounds in seven of Southeast's nine games, has grabbed 82 rebounds in her last four games.

Sophomore forward Rachel Blunt, coming off a career-high 21 point-performance during Friday's win over East Tennessee State, scored 14 points, all in the final half.

Junior guard Ashley Lovelady added 11 points and seven assists.

Southeast led 40-34 at halftime but fell behind by nine points twice midway through the second half.

The Redhawks battled back and finally took the lead for good on Whitney's basket with 4:49 left that made it 76-74.

Southeast was clinging to an 82-80 advantage with under two minutes to play, but six straight points sealed the victory.

The Redhawks shot 49.1 percent, made 30 of 39 free throws (76.9 percent), held a 45-24 rebounding edge and had just 11 turnovers.

"From an execution standpoint, this is by far the best we've played for 40 minutes," Ishee said.

Southeast will host Samford (6-4, 1-1), the OVC preseason favorite, Tuesday.

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