Redhawks look to complete perfect journey

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Southeast women can go 10-0 in OVC road games with a win today at UT-Martin.

Only lowly Tennessee-Martin stands in the way of the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team making program history.

Since joining the Ohio Valley Conference for the 1991-92 season, Southeast never has posted a perfect OVC road record.

Beating the last-place Skyhawks today in Martin, Tenn., would complete that feat. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

"You look around the country, and I don't think too many teams are undefeated on the road in their conference," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "It would be a heck of a feat."

The Redhawks (18-6, 13-2) are in first place in the 11-team OVC by one game as they chase their third straight regular-season conference championship.

Southeast, which has won nine straight and 14 of its last 15, is 9-0 in OVC road games. After today, the Redhawks play their final four league games at home.

"We've done really well on the road," senior guard Ashley Lovelady said.

Why are the Redhawks so potent away from the Show Me Center?

"I think it's because it's hard to win on the road, and we always expect the worst," Lovelady said. "Focus is always important. You just have to stay focused."

Said Ishee: "I think it's the fact we're experienced and mentally tough."

Those attributes have helped the Redhawks thrive in close games for the second straight season.

Of Southeast's 15 OVC games, 11 have been decided by 10 points or less. Southeast is 10-1 in those contests.

Southeast's last six games all have been decided by eight points or less. The Redhawks won all six.

"We work good under pressure," Lovelady said.

Ishee hopes the Redhawks' experience and mental toughness mean they won't take the Skyhawks (5-21, 2-14) lightly today. He figures the memory of what happened when UT-Martin came to the Show Me Center two weeks ago will help keep his team focused.

Despite having only six players available due to injuries and suspensions, the Skyhawks took Southeast to overtime before the Redhawks pulled out a 58-51 victory.

"They took us to overtime, and they beat [third-place] Eastern Illinois on the road," Ishee said. "We won't overlook them."

The Skyhawks, who have won just two of their last 21 games, are led by 6-foot senior center Crystal Fuller. She is fourth in the OVC in scoring and rebounding with averages of 16.9 points and 8.2 boards.

"They've got enough talent to beat you, especially if you don't come ready to play," Ishee said. "We'll be ready."

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