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Southeast women nearly dig out of 20-point hole, suffer 71-68 loss
Murray State holds off Redhawks in road upset.
The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team played a strong second half.
But a dismal opening period was too much for the Redhawks to overcome Monday night.
Murray State shredded Southeast's normally solid defense to build an 18-point halftime lead, after the visiting Racers led by 20 points at one time.
The Racers needed virtually all of that cushion to hold on for a 71-68 victory.
"We dug a deep hole the first half," Southeast junior wing Sonya Daugherty said. "A 20-point lead ... that's hard to overcome."
Southeast nearly did as junior forward Crysta Glenn missed a contested layup with 11 seconds left and Southeast trailing 69-68.
After Murray State made two free throws, the Redhawks could have forced overtime, but junior point guard Tarina Nixon's 3-pointer was well off the mark in the final seconds.
"We had plenty of opportunities in the second half. We had a point-blank layup to take the lead," Southeast coach John Ishee said.
But to Ishee, what happened in the second half was almost irrelevant.
It's what took place during a dismal first half that had Ishee upset as the Racers shot 54.8 percent and Southeast committed 13 turnovers. The Redhawks trailed 40-22 at the break.
"The loss of the game was in the first half, not the second half," Ishee said. "We weren't ready in the first half. That was obvious.
"We didn't compete in the first half. They outcompeted us. That's my fault. ... We got what we deserve."
Southeast, which had its five-game winning streak snapped, fell to 9-6 overall and 4-2 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
The two-time defending OVC regular-season and tournament champion Redhawks already have lost two conference home games, after going undefeated in league play at the Show Me Center last year.
Murray State (10-5, 4-3) snapped a three-game OVC losing streak. Those defeats were by a total of 10 points.
The Racers lost to Southeast three times last year, including in the finals of the OVC tournament on a shot in the final seconds.
Southeast scored the game's first basket Monday, but that was pretty much the extent of the good news for the Redhawks during the opening period.
"We were letting them get shots and we were turning the ball over," Southeast senior center Missy Whitney said.
The Redhawks tightened their defense in the second half, started to make some shots and committed just two turnovers.
"We competed a lot harder in the second half, for whatever reason," Ishee said.
An 8-0 run to start the half quickly got Southeast within striking distance, although the Redhawks fell back behind 49-34.
Southeast kept coming, and a 21-8 burst made it 57-55 with more than 7 minutes left.
The Racers regained control and appeared to be in command at 69-61 with under 3 minutes remaining.
Southeast made one more push with a 7-0 run, capped by Daugherty's 3-pointer at the 1 minute, 1 second mark that pulled the Redhawks within 69-68.
After Murray State missed two shots, Southeast had a chance to go ahead, but Glenn was off from in close with 11 seconds to play.
The Racers made two free throws, then Nixon's 3-pointer under pressure from the right wing was off the mark in the final seconds, as the Redhawks did not run the play Ishee called for during a timeout.
"We had something set up for a player [Whitney] that was wide open at the top of the key," said Ishee, who voiced his displeasure with his players over the final sequence. "She might not have made it, but ..."
Daugherty led the Redhawks with 24 points, 15 in the second half. She hit 9-of-12 field-goal attempts.
Whitney scored 21 points, 17 in the final period, but shot just 5-of-19.
Senior guard Ashley Lovelady added 10 points, while Glenn pulled down 12 rebounds.
Southeast hurt itself by missing 14 free throws in 36 attempts.
Junior guard Amber Guffey led the Racers with 19 points.