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Redhawks, Eagles play for second place in OVC
Southeast and Morehead State enter tonight's game tied for second place.
Southeast Missouri State and Morehead State are the two Ohio Valley Conference women's basketball teams hottest on the heels of first-place Murray State.
One will remain that way today, while one will take a step back.
That's because the Redhawks and Eagles, tied for second place in the OVC, square off at 4:15 p.m. in Morehead, Ky.
"All games are big at this point in the season, and this is one of them," Southeast acting head coach John Ishee said.
Not only are Southeast (13-5, 8-2) and Morehead State (9-9, 8-2) just one-half game behind Murray State, the Redhawks and Eagles are also the two hottest teams in the OVC.
Southeast has won 10 of its last 11 games. After having an eight-game winning streak snapped on Jan. 13 at Austin Peay, the Redhawks have bounced back with a pair of dominating home triumphs.
The Redhawks rolled past Tennessee State 64-46 on Thursday, then destroyed Tennessee Tech 77-52 on Saturday. Those were Southeast's two largest OVC victory margins of the season.
"I think we responded pretty well after the disappointing game at Austin Peay," Ishee said.
The Eagles have also responded well after a slow start to their season. They have the OVC's current longest winning streak at seven in a row.
"They're the hottest team in the league," Ishee said.
Morehead State was expected to be solid this year, as they were picked second in the OVC's preseason poll.
The Eagles have one of the better inside players in the conference in 6-foot-3 senior center LaKrisha Brown, who is averaging 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Brown was a first-team all-OVC preseason pick, after making the all-league first team a year ago.
"She's a really good player," Ishee said.
Nobody else is averaging in double figures for the Eagles, although four players are scoring between 7.3 and 9.7 points per game.
Ishee and his players believe the recent loss to Austin Peay, while disappointing at the time, might have actually refocused the Redhawks.
"I think it has, to be quite honest," Ishee said. "We forgot what made us a good team, which is playing with intensity and sharing the ball."
Added sophomore point guard Tarina Nixon: "We felt like we shouldn't have lost, but the way we played, we deserved it. I think it's made us stronger."
The Redhawks bounced back strong last week and they'll look to continue that type of play against the Eagles, with the contest beginning a crucial three-game stretch for Southeast.
After today's matchup, the Redhawks have two more home games in a row, Saturday against Murray State and Monday against Austin Peay.
Southeast has already beaten the Racers in Murray, Ky., and sweeping the season serious would prove important if the teams happen to tie for the OVC regular-season championship.
But if the Redhawks don't win today, then some of the luster will be taken off the Murray State rematch.
"This is the start of a really important stretch," Ishee said. "Hopefully, we'll get it started off right."