The Southeast Missouri State women won't get any style points for its final exhibition game, but at least the team was able to finish its preseason schedule undefeated.
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville -- a Division II squad that was just 11-17 last year -- proved to be a much tougher opponent than expected Friday, as Southeast prevailed 69-63 in front of more than 500 fans at the Show Me Center.
Southeast's other exhibition game resulted in a 35-point rout of Division II Christian Brothers University on Monday night. The regular season begins Friday at nationally ranked Oklahoma.
"We didn't play real well," senior forward Miah Shelford said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Coach B.J. Smith has said all along that, with just four returning players -- including only one starter -- and 11 newcomers, it's going to be a while before Southeast becomes a cohesive unit.
"We're going to be a good basketball team, but it's going to take time," Smith said.
Senior center Chandra Brown, the lone returning regular from last season, scored 13 points to lead Southeast. Shelford added 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds although Southeast lost the battle of the boards 37-27.
Freshman guard Julie Sweetin also scored 12 points. Junior college transfer Wanika Owsle, led in assists with eight and steals with three.
"I think Julie Sweetin is going to be a good player for us," Smith said.
Alisa Carrillo paced SIUE with 13 points, Lindy Carey scored 11 and Julianne McMillen added 10.
Although they never led, the Cougars were able to stay close in large part because of 32 fouls whistled against Southeast. And if the Cougars had been able to shoot a bit better from the free-throw line -- they hit 23 of 35 -- things might have gotten really interesting.
"Defensively, I liked a lot of the things we did, but we never figured out what a foul was," Smith said. "And I was disappointed in our offensive execution."
The game started out like it would be an easy Southeast win, as SIUE was held scoreless for the first 10:04. Southeast built a 23-7 lead in the opening period but the Cougars rallied to within 28-23 at halftime despite having just three field goals in the half. They made 17 of 26 foul shots.
Southeast appeared to be cruising again with a 39-25 lead early in the second half, but SIUE simply would not go away. The Cougars pulled to within 66-63 with 50 seconds left, but Russia hit two free throws and Shelford made one of two to seal the victory.
Tatiana Conceicao, Southeast's highly regarded junior college transfer center, did not play as a precautionary measure after she suffered a concussion in Monday's game. Smith said she should be ready to go for Oklahoma.