Redhawks can gain exclusive rights to OVC title

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Southeast women bring 12-game winning streak into tonight's game against Samford.

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team has clinched a tie for its third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title.

But the Redhawks don't plan to share the crown.

They have two games remaining to capture the championship outright, and they can nail it down today when Samford visits the Show Me Center for a 5 p.m. tipoff.

Southeast (21-6, 16-2) leads second-place Samford (21-7, 14-4) by two games.

"It's exciting that we've already clinched a tie for the championship," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "But we don't want to share it. You don't start the season with the goal of sharing the championship."

Said junior point guard Tarina Nixon following Saturday's win over Eastern Kentucky that assured Southeast of no worse than a title tie: "We don't want to share it. We're not going to share it."

Even with a loss today, the Redhawks could still claim the outright crown by beating visiting Jacksonville State in Saturday's final regular-season game.

The Redhawks, however, don't plan on seeing their 12-game winning streak come to an end any time soon.

Southeast, winners of 17 of its last 18 games, wants to keep on rolling into the OVC tournament, which begins Tuesday night with a first-round home game.

The Redhawks are already assured of being the No. 1 seed for the eight-team event as they chase their third consecutive tournament title.

"We want to get these last two and take a lot of momentum into the tournament," Ishee said.

Ishee expects Samford to give the Redhawks all they can handle today.

The Bulldogs were nearly as hot as Southeast before losing at Murray State Saturday. That snapped an eight-game winning streak for Samford, which has won 14 of its last 16.

Southeast posted a 69-60 victory at Samford on Dec. 18, one of the Redhawks' 12 OVC contests decided by 10 points or less. They are 11-1 in those games.

"Samford is very good, and their style if difficult to play against," said Ishee of a system that relies on cuts and movement designed to produce primarily layups or 3-point shots.

Samford, which has hit the second-most 3-pointers in the OVC with 199, is led offensively by freshman guard Emily London.

London averages 12.5 points per game and is the OVC's second-most accurate 3-point shooter at 49.1 percent (53-of-108).

Southeast and Samford are two of the OVC's top defensive teams and the league's two best at taking care of the ball.

The Redhawks allow an OVC-low 56.9 points per game, which is tied for 31st nationally. The Bulldogs are second in the OVC in scoring defense at 58.5.

Southeast is ninth nationally in fewest turnovers at 13.6 turnovers, while Samford is 15th at 14.1.

"It should be a very good game," Ishee said. "Hopefully we can take care of business so we don't go into our senior night game [Saturday against Jacksonville State] absolutely needing a win."

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