Redhawks eager to grab wins at Show Me Center

Thursday, January 15, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Southeast Missouri State's Crysta Glenn defends an inbounds pass during a game earlier this season.

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team has been unbeatable on the road but not so hot at home in recent Ohio Valley Conference play.

Southeast hopes its latest home performance means its on the verge of putting together a Show Me Center streak.

Coming off Saturday's big win over Eastern Illinois, the Redhawks (7-8, 3-2) continue a three-game homestand today at 5:30 p.m. against Morehead State (10-8, 4-2).

"It's important that we start establishing ourselves at home," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "It's always important to take care of your home court."

Southeast, which captured OVC regular-season titles in Ishee's first two years at the university, has won 15 straight OVC road games dating back to 2006-07. That stands as the nation's second-longest active conference road winning streak.

ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com
Southeast Missouri State senior Tarina Nixon, left, drives against Bethel College's Anna Trull during their game earlier this season at the Show Me Center.

"It's something to be very proud of," Ishee said.

The Redhawks have not been as successful at home during that same period, winning only eight of their last 13 OVC games at the Show Me Center.

But the Redhawks believe that trend might start changing following Saturday's 58-51 home victory over preseason OVC favorite Eastern Illinois, which suffered its first conference loss.

"It was a very good win for us," senior point guard Tarina Nixon said. "We hadn't been doing that well at home. Hopefully we'll start a good winning streak here."

The Redhawks lost their first two OVC home games in early December, but they played those contests without senior wing Sonya Daugherty, who had a knee injury.

Southeast's current three-game winning streak has coincided with the return to health of both Nixon and Daugherty, the squad's top two scorers with averages of 12.9 and 12 points per game, respectively.

Nixon (finger) and Daugherty had not been in the starting lineup together for seven straight games -- six of them losses -- before the Jan. 3 contest at Tennessee Tech that started Southeast's winning streak.

Daugherty and Nixon are on the verge of becoming only the 15th and 16th players in the history of Southeast women's basketball to score 1,000 or more career points.

Daugherty is 17 points shy of the milestone, while Nixon is 40 points away.

Nixon also is second in career 3-pointers at Southeast while ranking seventh in steals and 10th in assists.

"I'm a lot better coach when Sonya and Tarina are on the floor," Ishee said. "We're certainly a much different team when we've got both of them playing."

Southeast stands sixth in the 10-team OVC, although the Redhawks are just one game behind co-leaders Eastern Illinois and Murray State, who are 4-1.

Morehead State is among three teams tied for third at 4-2, with Southeast a half-game behind.

"There's a long way to go in the conference race, but it's really tight and I wouldn't be surprised if it stayed that way until the very end," Ishee said. "I think it's a very balanced league."

Ishee expects Morehead State to be among the contenders, and the Eagles have not done anything so far to dispute that.

The Eagles already beat defending OVC tournament champion Murray State, and they enter today's contest riding a two-game winning streak, although they have yet to post a road win.

Morehead State features three double-figure scorers, led by 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Chynna Bozeman with a 15.4 average that ranks seventh in the OVC.

Bozeman, also the Eagles' top scorer last year as a freshman, leads the league with 50 3-point baskets. As a team, the Eagles' 164 3-pointers are second nationally.

The Eagles have a major inside force in 6-3 junior center Brittany Pittman, who leads the OVC in blocks while ranking second in rebounding.

Pittman, averaging 9.8 points and 9.6 rebounds, has blocked an astounding 108 shots. Her average of six blocks per game is second nationally.

By comparison, no other OVC player has blocked more than 22 shots this season.

Pittman already owns the OVC single-season record by blocking 123 shots last year, her first in the program. She needs four more blocks to become the conference's career leader.

"Morehead State is really, really dangerous offensively," Ishee said. "They have a plethora of players who can make 3s, and you've got the nation's second-leading shot blocker inside.

"They're a really good team and they're a half-game ahead of us [in the OVC standings]. It's a huge game."

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