Southeast tries to salvage road trip after big loss

Saturday, February 19, 2005

MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Southeast Missouri State's women want to make sure an already disappointing road trip doesn't turn disastrous.

The Redhawks (17-7, 11-2), who saw their hopes of winning their first Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title take a major hit Thursday, visit Morehead State (5-19, 3-10) today for a 4:30 p.m. tipoff.

Southeast had its 10-game winning streak snapped at Eastern Kentucky Thursday, 66-62. The Redhawks fell out of a first-place OVC tie and are one game behind the Colonels with three contests remaining.

Like Southeast, Eastern Kentucky will be heavily favored in its final three games -- meaning the Redhawks will need help in order to gain at least a share of the OVC regular-season crown.

"I don't think anybody will beat them down the stretch, but you never know," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said. "But we just have to take care of our business, see where that puts us and get ready for the conference tournament."

The Redhawks should be able to take care of business today against a Morehead State squad that has struggled all season and is tied for ninth place in the 11-team OVC -- but the Eagles are coming off an impressive performance as they routed Eastern Illinois 82-64 Thursday.

"We're disappointed we didn't beat Eastern Kentucky, but we just have to shake if off, bounce back and get Morehead State," senior guard Brandi Russia said. "Maybe Eastern Kentucky will lose again, and even if they don't, maybe we can get them back in the conference tournament."

Smith hopes Southeast gets off to a better start today than it did Thursday, when the Redhawks -- who never led and were tied just once, at 2-2 -- fell behind 37-24 at halftime and trailed by 16 points early in the second half.

The Redhawks rallied and twice pulled to within two points in the late going, but the deficit was simply too much to overcome.

"We didn't match their intensity at the start of the game," said Russia, who led Southeast Thursday with 17 points. "We have to come ready to play [today]."

Said Smith, "It's hard to come back from that big a hole against a good team, but we still had our chances late in the game. We just have to come out much stronger at the start against Morehead State."

Smith warned that the Redhawks cannot think they will roll over Morehead State simply because the Eagles are having such a bad season.

"It's always tough to win on the road," Smith said. "I know they've struggled, but they had a really good game Thursday and I'm sure they'll get really up to play us and it would be big for them if they could beat us.

"We can't afford to overlook them. We have to play well and come back home with a win."

Southeast plays its final two regular-season games at the Show Me Center and is assured of hosting a first-round OVC tournament contest. The top four finishers in the league play opening-round tourney games at home.

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