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Redhawks run road winning streak to seven
The Southeast women overcame their coach's early ejection.
MURRAY, Ky. -- Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach John Ishee appreciated the Redhawks' impressive comeback win.
He only wishes he'd been around to witness it.
Ishee received two technical fouls during the first eight minutes of Saturday's key Ohio Valley Conference game at Murray State. That meant an automatic ejection for Ishee, who for good measure was hit with a third technical before he left the court.
"Oh man, he was pretty fired up," senior center Missy Whitney said.
The Racers hit all six of their free throws on the three technicals and used hot shooting to build a 14-point lead midway through the first half.
But the Redhawks rallied for an 81-74 victory that kept their OVC road record perfect.
"I'm extremely proud of our players and our coaches," Ishee said. "Never underestimate the heart of a champion."
Ishee was tossed from the contest with 12 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the opening period.
He spent the remainder of the game in the locker room at the Regional Special Events Center.
Ishee said he received one second-half score update from an arena worker.
"I heard we were up by 12," he said.
Ishee figured things were proceeding well for Southeast down the stretch because, "I could hear the crowd wasn't doing much."
Without Ishee on the bench, the Redhawks were directed by assistant Chris Harris, a former head coach on the NAIA and junior college levels who is in his first season at Southeast.
"We were pretty much thinking OK, we've got to come together and depend on each other," junior point guard Tarina Nixon said. "We knew what to do, and we had confidence in coach Harris."
Southeast improved to 14-6 overall and 9-2 in OVC play as the Redhawks won for the 10th time in their last 11 games.
The Redhawks, two-time defending OVC regular-season and tournament champions, remained in second place in the conference.
Southeast, 7-0 in OVC road contests, stayed one-half game behind first-place Eastern Illinois. The squads are tied in the loss column.
"Obviously they handled it great," Harris said of the way Southeast players reacted following Ishee's ejection. "Probably the difference in the game was how they handled it.
"It's probably because we have a lot of experience. We got together and said our game plan hasn't changed."
On Jan. 7 in Cape Girardeau, the Racers built an 18-point halftime lead and held off the Redhawks 71-68.
Murray State (13-6, 7-4) started strong again and led 25-11 nine minutes in, but this time Southeast pulled to within 40-38 at the break and had control for most of the second half.
"Murray always comes out on fire," Nixon said. "But it's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Whitney and Nixon continued their recent stellar play.
Whitney, the OVC preseason player of the year, scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. She is averaging 18 points in her last eight games, and has made 46-of-50 free throws in her last six games after going 7-of-7 Saturday.
Nixon scored 15 points and is averaging nearly 18 points over her last five games. She added six rebounds and five assists.
Senior guard Ashley Lovelady hit 7-of-9 shots and scored 14 points. She added six rebounds and four steals.
Junior forward Crysta Glenn, normally Southeast's first player off the bench, made her fourth start. The junior college transfer recorded her second double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.
Junior guard Sonya Daugherty added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, while junior forward Rachel Blunt -- normally a starter -- contributed eight points off the bench.
"Everybody really stepped up and contributed," Harris said.
Southeast grabbed its first lead of the game early in the second half and went ahead for good at 44-42 on a 17-foot jumper by Nixon with 17:10 remaining.
The Redhawks pushed their advantage to 14 points twice and never let the Racers get closer than five points down the stretch.
Southeast, which entered the day being outrebounded by more than three per game, dominated the boards 48-28.
The Redhawks, who for much of the year have not been overly impressive from the free-throw line, made a sizzling 25-of-28, including 16-of-19 in the second half. They were 25-of-30 Thursday against Morehead State.
Murray State went 25-of-30 from the line.
"He [Ishee] always tells us to stay aggressive and we'll get the calls sooner or later," Whitney said. "Free throws are a big part of the game. It's a big win for us."
Even if Ishee didn't get to see it.
Ishee also will have to miss his team's next contest because of the ejection -- Saturday's nationally televised home game against Tennessee-Martin. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
"He was happy for us. He congratulated us," Nixon said. "He said the same things he would after any other game."