Southeast women pursue second OVC win

Monday, January 5, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team had a strong start to its two-game road trip.

Today the Redhawks hope to finish strong.

Southeast concludes its road swing with a 5:30 p.m. contest at Jacksonville State.

The Redhawks notched their first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season Saturday, beating Tennessee Tech 56-41.

Southeast (5-8, 1-2) broke a four-game losing streak and won for the second time in its past 10 games.

"We really needed that one," Southeast coach John Ishee said.

Ishee thinks the Redhawks also need today's contest against JSU (3-9, 0-2).

"For Saturday's win to mean anything, we have to take care of business against Jacksonville State," Ishee said. "Then we come home for three straight games, so getting this one would be big."

Although the Gamecocks are struggling, they were picked fifth in the OVC preseason poll.

"It would definitely be nice to win both games on the road trip," senior point guard Tarina Nixon said. "We're not going to take the game lightly."

Added senior forward Rachel Blunt: "Winning [Saturday] is big for our confidence. After a while you get discouraged when you're losing. We have to come out ready to play against Jacksonville State."

Southeast has been strong in OVC road play, winning 14 straight conference games away from home dating back to the 2006-07 campaign.

Saturday's triumph at Tennessee Tech was the Redhawks' first road victory this season.

The Redhawks were especially strong down the stretch against the Eagles, outscoring the host squad 21-6 over the final 12-plus minutes to pull away from a 35-35 tie.

"I thought we showed a lot of character," Ishee said. "We really finished the game strong."

Southeast was helped by the return of Nixon, who missed the previous three games with a finger injury that has hampered her most of the season.

Nixon contributed 10 points, two assists and two steals.

"It was really good to have Tarina back," Ishee said.

JSU is coming off Saturday's 71-58 home loss to OVC preseason-favorite Eastern Illinois.

The Gamecocks are led by 6-foot-1 junior center Jolie Efezokhae, who ranks eighth in the OVC in scoring (14.2 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (7.6 rpg).

"They are a very athletic team, and Efezokhae poses problems because she's an athletic inside player," Ishee said. "They played probably the best team in the league Saturday, so they'll be ready for us. We'll have to be ready."

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