Southeast seeks 4th straight win, first road victory

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Southeast Missouri State University's women are off to a strong start, having won three straight games to improve their record to 3-1.

But those three victories have all come at home. Tonight, Southeast will look for its first road triumph when it visits Southern Illinois University for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff in Carbondale, Ill.

"It's important we do well on the road, and getting that first road win would be important for us," said Southeast coach B.J. Smith, whose squad's lone road game so far resulted in a loss at national power Oklahoma. "And this is a rivalry game. Those are always big. We have to win these kinds of games."

SIU's program has been down for several seasons and the Salukis are off to an 0-4 start this year as they figure to struggle again under new coach Dana Eikenberg.

But Smith said he figures Eikenberg, who had success rebuilding a previously struggling program at Missouri-Kansas City, will eventually get the Salukis going -- and he's not discounting their current squad.

"I know her and I think she'll do a good job," Smith said. "And even though they're struggling a little bit, they've been able to do things in the first half to keep things close, so I don't expect an easy game."

The Salukis, who went 3-24 last year and are just 23-85 over the past four seasons, have lost their first four games by an average of 20 points.

SIU's defeats have come against Iowa (66-50), Northern Illinois (61-43), Wisconsin (82-53) and Ohio Valley Conference preseason favorite Tennessee Tech (73-55).

Two players have done the bulk of SIU's scoring so far as senior guard Danette Jones is averaging 17.8 points per game, followed by senior guard Daphney Desamours at 13 points a contest.

Southeast, coming off the title in its own HealthPoint Plaza Thanksgiving Classic over the weekend, is being led offensively by two newcomers and a veteran.

Junior forward/center Tatiana Conceicao, a first-team junior college All-American last year at Western Nebraska Community College, has so far lived up to her billing as one of the program's best-ever recruits by averaging 19.8 points per game. Conceicao also leads in steals with 18.

Junior forward Natalie Purcell, who transferred in from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, is second with 14.5 points per game, followed by senior guard Brandi Russia at 12.3 points a contest.

Russia, who had some growing pains during her first season at Southeast last year after sitting out the previous campaign following her transfer from a junior college, is also first on the squad in assists with 14.

"Brandi has started out well for us," Smith said. "She's playing like we knew she could."

Senior forward/center Chandra Brown, Southeast's only returning starter from last year, is averaging a team-high 7.5 rebounds to go along with 7.8 points.

Smith said he has been pleased by Southeast's start but knows his relatively new-look team that features only four returning players still has plenty of work to do.

"I am pleased so far, but we've got a long way to go," Smith said. "The big thing for us is to keep working hard and keep getting better every game."

Said Russia: "I think we're coming along and getting better every game, but we still have to get a lot better."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: