Redhawks breeze past Tulsa

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Southeast Missouri State's Missy Whitney drove to the basket past several Tulsa defenders during the first half Saturday night at the Show Me Center. (Kit Doyle)

Southeast avenge last year's loss to the Golden Hurricane with a 67-54 victory.

With about 7 minutes remaining in Saturday night's season opener for the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team, Missy Whitney turned to an official as she was inbounding the ball and asked, "Can I run?"

"No," he replied.

The rest of the night, Whitney did pretty much whatever she wanted.

The senior from Charleston scored a game-high 28 points to lead the two-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champions to a 67-45 throttling of Tulsa at the Show Me Center.

Southeast Missouri State junior Crysta Glenn faked Tulsa center Chanel Johnson into the air and drew a foul on the play in the first half Saturday, November 10, 2007, at the Show Me Center. (Kit Doyle)

The game was the opener for both teams, and it marked a reversal of last year's opener, which Tulsa won 67-54. The year made a big difference.

For Southeast, almost the entire starting lineup is back from last year's winningest season in the program's Division I history, including preseason OVC player of the year Whitney.

She converted 11 of 14 shots, including 2 of 3 3-pointers, and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line. She added four rebounds and stayed away from foul trouble, getting just one.

"Missy is going to have to carry us offensively and in the post," Ishee said. "I was curious, to be honest, to see how she would respond. You just don't know. When somebody is named the OVC preseason player of the year, you don't know how that's going to affect somebody until the lights come on and people are in the bleachers. Her versatility and quickness creates a lot of matchup problems."

Said Tulsa coach Charlene Thomas-Swinson: "Whitney is a very good post. She is able to do it facing the basket as well as with her back to the basket. And she did a good as well crashing the glass."

Whitney came through with eight points in the decisive stretch in the first half, when Southeast scored 17 points and shut out Tulsa for more than 6 minutes in the first half to turn an 11-9 deficit into a 15-point lead.

"Their defensive intensity in the first half -- them creating 16 turnovers and us not being able to take care of the ball -- that really made it tough for us," Thomas-Swinson said. "That's what you're supposed to do: Have your defense create your offense, and they did a good job with that."

For the game, Southeast forced 22 turnovers and came up with 10 steals.

But the game was won in the first half, when Southeast had seven steals, three by senior Ashley Lovelady.

The Redhawks also had a rebounding edge of 18-16 in the first half, including 12 offensive rebounds to Tulsa's 13 defensive boards -- and that was against a team with two 6-foot-3 players on the floor much of the night, and a 6-foot-1 sophomore, Teka Brooks, who led the Golden Hurricane with 10 rebounds. Tulsa had outrebounded its last foe, albeit in exhibition, 55-28.

"We knew if they did that tonight, it would be a long night," Ishee said.

Southeast countered with a balanced attack of the boards. Junior forward Rachel Blunt had and 5-7 junior guard Sonya Daugherty each had seven rebounds.

Behind Whitney, it was a balanced scoring attack as well, with Daugherty scoring 11 points, and Lovelady and junior guard Tarina Nixon each adding eight.

One of the newcomers, junior Crysta Glenn, scored four points in the first-half scoring spree and contributed three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

"I knew when I came in, I had to keep up our high level of intensity, and that's what I tried to do," Glenn said.

With all the turnovers and the offensive rebounds, Southeast took 65 shots to Tulsa's 42.

The Golden Hurricane, ranked in some polls as one of the top 25 teams in the country heading into last year, put a lineup on the floor with three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior who sat out last year after transferring from Cincinnati.

Freshman Tatum Beer led the Golden Hurricane with 21 points.

Southeast, on the other hand, has a lot more respect this season as the preseason pick for a third straight OVC championship.

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