Southeast women avenge loss to Eagles

Friday, January 21, 2005

Southeast Missouri State University's women turned Thursday's highly anticipated rematch with Tennessee Tech into a mismatch.

Southeast, which suffered a two-point loss at Tech on Jan. 8 after failing to hold a 17-point lead built early in the second half, made sure this one wasn't even close by romping 62-45 at the Show Me Center.

With its third straight victory after that earlier defeat to the Eaglettes, Southeast improved to 10-6 overall and moved into a first-place Ohio Valley Conference tie at 4-1. Tech fell to 11-5 and 4-1.

"This is a pretty rewarding victory, especially after we felt we let one get away at their place," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said.

Thursday's triumph was spearheaded by a suffocating defense that totally took the Eaglettes out of their offense, particularly in the first half, which ended with Southeast ahead 36-17.

Tech never got closer than 16 points in the second half, and Southeast led by 26 points with seven minutes left. A late flurry by the Eaglettes only served to make the final score closer than the game actually was.

"We guarded them. Our defense was as good as it's been all year, and probably since I've been here," said Smith, in his third season at Southeast.

Tech junior center Emily Christian, the OVC's preseason player of the year who was averaging 17.5 points per game, had particular trouble solving Southeast's defense in the decisive opening period as senior forward Chandra Brown was primarily responsible for shadowing her, with junior center Tatiana Conceicao also taking some turns.

Christian scored just four first-half points as she hit two of eight shots from the field. Christian got going some in the second half and finished with 17 points on eight of 19 shooting.

"It feels good to get them back, and our defense did it for us," Brown said. "[Christian] got me a couple of times, but we knew we had to shut her down."

The Eaglettes shot 31.4 percent for the game (16 of 51) and just 24 percent in the opening period (six of 25). They also had 21 turnovers, 13 before halftime.

"Defense was the key," Conceicao said.

Conceicao, the OVC's top scorer at 17.8 points per game, and Brown led Southeast's offense with 24 and 15 points, respectively. Brown also had 11 rebounds and five blocks, while Conceicao added six rebounds and five steals.

"Chandra did a phenomenal job inside. She played great defense and gave a great effort," Smith said. "That's the best she's played."

Southeast again got a first-half lift from freshman guard Rachel Mueggenborg, who has turned into the squad's designated 3-point shooting specialist.

With Southeast also struggling on offense early in the contest, Mueggenborg came off the bench and hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the period, boosting a precarious 8-6 Southeast lead to 14-6 in a span of 30 seconds.

"Rachel is a great shooter, and she really gave us a lift with those two shots," Smith said. "She's done that a few times lately."

Mueggenborg's long-range damage seemed to jump-start Southeast's offense as the hosts rolled from there.

Leading 20-13 with 7:41 remaining in the half, Southeast hit Tech with an 11-0 run capped by junior guard Wanika Owsley's short jumper that made it 31-13 with 4:23 left. Southeast never looked back.

Southeast plays the second of four straight home games Saturday, as two-time defending OVC regular-season champion Austin Peay visits the Show Me Center for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Southeast won at Austin Peay 59-56 on Jan. 6.

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