As a basketball player, Kenja White would probably make a good quarterback. Or perhaps a pitcher.
White showed off her right arm Saturday with a shot from about 70 feet at the halftime buzzer that highlighted Southeast Missouri State University's third straight victory, a 74-60 win over visiting Murray State Saturday night.
The Otahkians improved to 11-10 overall and 6-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play as they remained tied for fourth place and moved within one game of second place. The Racers fell to 9-12 and 5-5.
White found herself with the basketball deep in her own end of the court during the closing seconds of the first half. The senior guard let fire football style from straight on and the ball banked into the basket as the buzzer sounded, sending the Otahkians to the locker room with a 38-27 lead.
"Never in my life had a hit a shot like that, but I just threw it," a beaming White explained. "It gave us a lot of momentum."
Asked where she learned to throw like that, White grinned and said, "I used to play a lot of softball."
Said Southeast coach B.J. Smith: "I don't think I could even throw it that far."
Senior forward Yashika Sidbury, Southeast's Copi-Rite player of the game, scored a season-high 20 points, as she hit seven of 10 shots from the field. Sidbury entered the game averaging 8.7 points and shooting 39 percent.
"It felt good to score like that," said Sidbury, who also had six rebounds. "I had to drive to the basket more. Coach told me to stop settling for outside shots."
Senior point guard Sarah Costello scored 15 points to go along with three assists and three steals. White had 12 points and three assists. Senior forward Carina Souza led Southeast rebounders with seven and freshman guard Jessica Aebi led in assists with four.
"We didn't shoot it nearly as well as we did against Tennessee-Martin Thursday, but I thought we played well," Smith said. "We're starting to get on a roll. Winning makes everything better."
The Otahkians had been averaging nearly 19 turnovers per game but committed just 11 Saturday while forcing the Racers into 20 miscues.
"We still have a lot of things we need to work on, but I feel like it's coming together," Sidbury said.
Southeast never trailed and was tied just twice in the early minutes. After White put the Otahkians up by 11 at halftime, their lead never dipped below seven in the second half and their biggest advantage was 18.
"I thought we played a good game," White said. "We're getting there."
Freshman guard Gerraca Matthews led the Racers with 19 points.