Southeast women topple first-place Racers

Friday, February 20, 2009

For one night at least, Murray State's high-powered offense was no match for Southeast Missouri State's stingy defense.

The Redhawks clamped down on the Racers to post a surprisingly lopsided 69-51 women's basketball victory Thursday at the Show Me Center.

"It was a great win any way you look at it," senior point guard Tarina Nixon said.

MSU came to town leading the Ohio Valley Conference, riding a school-record 11-game winning streak and averaging 78 points per game to rank eighth nationally.

The Racers left Cape Girardeau in second place -- one-half game behind Eastern Illinois, which they play Saturday -- after scoring their lowest point total in a conference game this season and shooting just 33.9 percent from the field.

"I just think we all did a good job on defense," senior forward Crysta Glenn said. "That's always our main focus."

Southeast also did a solid job on offense, especially senior wing Sonya Daugherty.

Daugherty scored a career-high 31 points and matched her career high with 12 rebounds. She had 22 first-half points.

"I just had to get focused before the game," said Daugherty, who hit 12 of 22 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers. "We had to come back and redeem ourselves from that one-point loss [Saturday at Morehead State]."

Glenn said Daugherty's fast start helped fire up the Redhawks.

"When Sonya plays her game, we all feed off that energy," Glenn said. "She really put on a show tonight."

MSU fell to 17-7 overall and 12-2 in the OVC. Southeast improved to 14-12 and 9-6.

More importantly, the Redhawks climbed from sixth place into a three-way tie for fourth place. The top four finishers earn first-round OVC tournament home games.

"We're trying to get that No. 3, No. 4 spot," Daugherty said.

On Jan. 24 in Murray, Ky., MSU beat Southeast 80-65 as senior stars Ashley Hayes, Amber Guffey and Paige Guffey combined for all but six of the Racers' points.

Those three combined for all but four of the Racers' points in the rematch. The difference was that the high-scoring trio finished 27 points below their total in the first meeting with Southeast.

"They're an awfully good team. They just didn't find the basket tonight," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "But I don't want to take away from our defensive performance.

"We wanted to make those three earn what they got. I thought we did that."

Hayes, a 5-foot-10 wing, had 30 points in the earlier meeting. That began a string of five straight performances of at least 30 points for the reigning OVC player of the year.

Hayes entered Thursday fifth nationally in scoring with a 23.8 average while shooting better than 50 percent. In OVC games, she was averaging 26.9 points and shooting nearly 55 percent.

Primarily guarded by Glenn, Hayes finished with 16 points -- matching her lowest total in an OVC game this season -- while shooting just 5 of 21.

"She's a good player all around," Glenn said. "I think I sensed a little frustration."

Amber Guffey, the nation's No. 15 scorer at just over 20 points per game, led the Racers with 18. Paige Guffey had 13.

In addition to Daugherty's third double-double of the season, she also had four assists and four steals.

Glenn recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Nixon, who spent most of the night guarding Amber Guffey, also scored in double figures with 11 points.

Sophomore wing Lauren Sharpe, who defended Paige Guffey much of the way, added nine points.

Southeast trailed 7-3 early, but took the lead for good just six minutes into the game.

A 15-0 run turned a 16-15 lead into a 31-15 advantage and it was 36-22 at halftime. The margin never dipped under 13 points in the final period.

"It feels great," Daugherty said. "I think tonight gives us a lot of confidence."

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