Redhawks' skid hits four games with 93-76 loss

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Southeast men dropped to 6-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech's Eblen Center has been a house of horrors for the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team.

Nothing changed Saturday afternoon.

The reeling Redhawks continued their struggles on Tech's home court and suffered their fourth straight loss, 93-76.

Southeast has dropped its last 10 games at the Eblen Center. Its last victory there came during the 1999-2000 season.

"We're in a little funk right now," senior center Mike Rembert said. "But it's a long season. We just have to stay together."

Southeast's last three defeats have come on the road against three of the Ohio Valley Conference's most talented teams, including first-place Austin Peay.

It doesn't help the Redhawks that they are without senior forward Brandon Foust, their top all-around performer who suffered a season-ending knee injury Jan. 12 at Austin Peay.

Also, sophomore guard Jimmy Drew -- Southeast's top 3-point shooter -- played just two minutes Saturday because of a foot problem that might be a stress fracture.

"This was going to be a very challenging stretch, regardless if we were healthy and we were playing our best," Southeast coach Scott Edgar said.

The Redhawks fell to 11-9 overall and 6-4 in OVC play.

During Southeast's current slide, three of the four losses have been by at least 12 points. The Redhawks have allowed at least 85 points in three straight games.

"It's tough right now, but we just have to come together as a team," sophomore point guard Roderick Pearson said.

Tech avenged an 84-74 loss at Southeast on Dec. 8, and improved to 9-11 and 6-4 after posting its third consecutive win.

Overall, the Eagles have won 11 of the past 12 meetings with Southeast.

In an effort to hault his squad's recent run of slow starts, Edgar made a key change in his starting lineup. Although leading scorer Jaycen Herring averages the most minutes among the Redhawks, the junior wing had started just one game this season, a non-league contest.

Herring was on the floor at the outset Saturday for the Redhawks, who fell behind by large margins early in their last three games. They never led in two of them and only briefly in the other.

Edgar also gave extended early playing time to sophomore wing Johnny Hill, who has languished on the bench in recent weeks.

Herring, averaging 12 points per game, did not score for the first nine-plus minutes, although Edgar said: "I thought he responded well."

Hill, who had scored just 10 points all season, matched his season high of five points in the opening eight minutes.

"He stepped up," Edgar said.

But the Redhawks still couldn't get going early.

Southeast scored the game's first basket, a jumper by Pearson, but Tech put up the next 12 points and had control the rest of the way.

"It's something we have to work on and try to fix," Rembert said of the Redhawks' recent slow starts.

The Redhawks trailed 44-25 late in the half before a closing flurry sliced the deficit to 10 points. It was 46-34 at the intermission.

Tech's advantage never dipped under 11 points in the second half, and the Eagles' biggest margin was 23 points.

Southeast was behind by at least 14 points for the final 13 minutes.

"I thought we played pretty hard," Tech coach Mike Sutton said.

Herring led the Redhawks with 17 points, followed by Pearson with 14 and junior guard Kenard Moore with 11. Pearson added five assists.

Freshman center Will Bogan had 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, while Hill scored a season-high nine points in 17 minutes.

"Johnny did a lot of good things," Edgar said.

Senior guard Anthony Fisher, the OVC's third-leading scorer, paced Tech with 21 points.

Senior forward Amadi McKenzie, the OVC's No. 2 rebounder, had a double-double with 20 points and 12 boards.

Junior center Daniel Northern, the league's top rebounder, also recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards.

Tech won the rebounding battle 51-38 after Southeast outrebounded the Eagles 51-35 in the first meeting.

"This game kind of mirrored the game with them at home in an opposite way," Edgar said. "We dominated the glass the first time, and they did here."

Southeast shot 41.5 percent, made only 15-of-28 free throws (53.6 percent) and allowed Tech to shoot 51.6 percent in the second half, thanks to numerous layups.

The Redhawks return to action Thursday at home against Morehead State as they play three of their next four games at the Show Me Center.

"We just need to go home, get healthy and try to turn this thing back around," Edgar said.

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