Southeast guts out win despite poor shooting game

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Southeast women improved to 6-0 in OVC road games.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Style points went out the window early as the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team missed 10 of its first 11 field-goal attempts.

Southeast's offense failed to improve the rest of the way.

Yet the Redhawks were able to board their bus for the five-hour trip back to Cape Girardeau with smiles.

Saturday's 49-39 victory over Tennessee Tech finished off an impressive run of Ohio Valley Conference road successes for Southeast.

The Redhawks completed a stretch that had them playing six of seven OVC games away from home.

Southeast came away unscathed, winning all six road contests, although the Redhawks did drop the one at home.

"It was an ugly win, but any win is a good win, especially on the road," junior point guard Tarina Nixon said.

The Redhawks (12-6, 7-2) took over sole possession of second place in the OVC as they chase their third straight regular-season title.

Southeast trails Eastern Illinois by one game, but the squads are tied in the loss column. The Redhawks have won eight of their last nine overall.

"We knew this stretch would be really tough, and huge for us," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "We came out of it in good shape, and it puts us right there [in the OVC race]."

Southeast never could get untracked offensively against the Eagles (3-16, 2-7).

The Redhawks finished with a shooting percentage of 25.4 (15-of-59), including 25 percent from 3-point range (5-of-20).

"We just couldn't get our shots to fall," Nixon said.

But Southeast's defense, its staple, was strong as the Redhawks held Tech to 39.5 percent (15-of-38) and forced 26 turnovers.

Southeast also held a 38-34 rebounding edge, including 18-4 on the offensive glass.

"I thought our defense was solid, and the offensive rebounding was huge," Ishee said.

The 39 points were the fewest Southeast has allowed in a conference game since moving to Division I.

Tech had a scoring drought of more than nine minutes in the first half, which ended with Southeast ahead 23-18.

After the Eagles rallied for a 32-30 lead with under 8 minutes left in the game, they went more than five minutes without a point as Southeast gained control with a 10-0 run.

Nixon's 18-footer with 7 minutes, 30 seconds remaining tied the contest at 32-32.

Senior center Missy Whitney buried the first of consecutive 3-pointers at the 5:01 mark as Southeast went ahead for good, 35-32.

Another Whitney trey with 3:39 left made it 38-32, and junior reserve guard Tierra Johnson finished the run with a fast-break layup at the 3:09 mark.

"It was an ugly win, but we finished it out strong," Whitney said. "It's never easy to win on the road."

Tech got within 42-39 with a little more than a minute left, but the Redhawks hit 7-of-9 free throws in the final 1:02 to close things out.

Whitney paced Southeast with 18 points, and was the only Redhawk to thrive offensively. She made 6-of-12 shots, including all three of her 3-pointers. She had 12 second-half points.

"If they leave me open, I'm going to shoot it," Whitney said of her success from beyond the arc.

Whitney also was credited with seven steals and three blocks.

"Missy was huge," Ishee said.

Nixon added 11 points, while junior forward Crysta Glenn contributed seven points off the bench.

"It was just a really good win for us," Ishee said. "I couldn't be any happier."

Southeast returns to action Thursday at home against Morehead State.

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