Southeast women try to sweep homestand

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Southeast Missouri State University's women have won their past three contests by crushing the teams picked one-two-three in the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason poll.

The Redhawks' challenge today as they wrap up their four-game homestand is to not overlook the squad predicted to finish 10th in the 11-team OVC.

Southeast (12-6, 6-1) and Samford (10-8, 3-4) square off at 5 p.m. at the Show Me Center. The Redhawks, who have won five straight, are tied for first place in the OVC with Tennessee Tech and Eastern Kentucky.

"We've won the first three games on this homestand and that's great," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said. "But we have to finish it off and get this one. It's really important. You have to win all your home games."

Despite the Redhawks' recent domination -- they routed preseason OVC No. 2 Jacksonville State 94-51 Thursday, preceded by romps past preseason No. 3 Austin Peay (84-52) and preseason No. 1 Tennessee Tech (62-45) -- the players are apparently staying well grounded.

"We're playing good, but we know we can get a lot better," said senior guard Brandi Russia, who scored 15 points against Jacksonville State. "We can't take anybody lightly. We just have to keep working."

Added freshman backup center Leanne Evans, who had been averaging 1.6 points per game but matched Russia for team-high honors Thursday by scoring 15, "Any team can win at any time. We still have a lot of work to do."

Smith loves that kind of attitude, as he has also been trying to downplay Southeast's stellar performances on this homestand.

"We're pleased, and we're doing a lot of good things, but there are so many little things we have to get better at in order to win the conference championship," Smith said. "I think what is really helping us is our older kids are coming in with the mindset that we have to get better, which helps keep us from getting too satisfied even though we're winning."

While today's opponent, Samford, placed just 10th in the OVC last season and is picked to finish in that spot again this year, the squad from Birmingham, Ala., appears to be much improved.

The Bulldogs, tied for fifth in the standings, have already matched their conference and overall victory totals from last season, when they went 10-17 overall and 3-13 in league play.

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