Southeast women try to extend OVC road streak

Thursday, January 22, 2009

As the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team gears up for two straight road games, a question was posed to several Redhawks.

Why does Southeast play so much better on the road than at home?

The Redhawks (8-9, 4-3 Ohio Valley Conference) had some theories but not any real answers entering today's 5:30 p.m. contest at last-place Tennessee-Martin (2-15, 0-7).

"We all try to figure it out," sophomore wing Lauren Sharpe said. "We don't know."

But the proof is in the records.

Southeast has won 15 straight OVC road games dating back to the 2006-07 season. That is the nation's second-longest active conference road winning streak.

Over their past 15 OVC regular-season home games, the Redhawks are just 9-6.

"I can't really put my finger on it," senior point guard Tarina Nixon said. "My guess would be going on the road, we know it's going to be harder. Maybe we focus more and concentrate more."

Added senior forward Rachel Blunt: "The only thing I can think of, when you're at home you have more distractions. On the road, it's just the team."

So far this season in OVC play, the Redhawks are 2-0 on the road and 2-3 at home.

"We try to have the same concentration at home and on the road," senior forward Crysta Glenn said. "But we do seem to play better on the road."

Southeast coach John Ishee seems to think it's more of a quirk than anything else, and he pointed out several OVC home games in the past two years that some of the Redhawks' key players missed with injuries.

That includes this season, when senior wing Sonya Daugherty sat out Southeast's first two conference dates in early December. The Redhawks lost both games.

Daugherty recently became the 15th player in program history to score 1,000 or more career points. She is Southeast's second-leading scorer with a 12.7 average.

Nixon is likely to join Daugherty in the 1,000-point club today. Nixon, the Redhawks' top scorer with a 13.3 average, needs only four points to reach 1,000.

Although UTM has won just two of 17 games and has not posted a conference victory -- after the Skyhawks finished last in the OVC a year ago -- Ishee is wary.

Five of the Skyhawks' seven league losses have been by seven points or less, including their last three.

UTM had a two-point home setback to defending OVC tournament champion Murray State as the Racers hit a shot at the buzzer.

"They've played people really close and they're always tough at home," Ishee said.

Southeast knows that all too well because the Redhawks' last OVC road loss came at UTM late in the 2006-07 season.

UTM has one of the OVC's better inside players in 5-foot-10 senior forward Phyllisha Mitchell.

Mitchell, a preseason all-conference pick, is averaging 13.3 points and a league-leading 13.2 rebounds per game. She is tied for fourth nationally in rebounding.

"She's a great player," Ishee said.

Yalonda Davis, a 5-5 freshman guard, led the Skyhawks in scoring during their two games last week with 30 points. She is averaging 9.1.

"This team will be a handful for us," Ishee said.

Following today's game, the Redhawks continue on the road for Saturday's key matchup at OVC co-leader Murray State (11-6, 6-1).

The Racers host Eastern Illinois today in a first-place battle. The Panthers are also tied for the top spot.

Southeast is tied for fifth in the 10-team OVC, two games behind the leaders.

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