Surprising Southeast women face first road test at Missouri State

Friday, November 20, 2009
LAURA SIMON lsimon@ (Southeast Missouri State freshman Jasmine Davis drives against Southern Mississippi's Pauline Love during Monday's game at the Show Me Center. Davis had a team-high 17 points in the Redhawks' 73-63 victory.)

A young Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team passed its first major test of the season in a big way.

Now the Redhawks (2-0) prepare to be tested on the road for the first time.

Southeast plays at two Missouri Valley Conference squads in the next five days, facing Missouri State on Saturday and Indiana State on Tuesday.

Saturday's contest tips off at 1:05 p.m. in Springfield, Mo.

"The road is always tougher. You face adversity on the road," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how we respond."

Southeast, with nine freshmen and just one senior on its 13-player roster, responded Monday by beating Southern Mississippi 73-63 at the Show Me Center.

Southern Miss, a Conference USA team that won 20 games last year, was expected to handle Southeast. But the Redhawks led the entire way.

"It was a big-time win," freshman guard Jasmine Davis said.

Davis has been among many freshmen to contribute heavily so far. She leads the Redhawks with 30 points and has been their top scorer in both games.

Davis started off with 13 points during a 66-53 win over Division II Missouri-St. Louis. She had 17 points against Southern Miss.

"Our freshmen are playing really well," said junior wing Lauren Sharpe, Southeast's top returning scorer from last year with an eight-point average.

Southeast has made major strides since suffering a 16-point exhibition loss to Division II Christian Brothers less than two weeks ago.

The Redhawks improved considerably against Missouri-St. Louis and took that improvement to another level against Southern Miss.

"It's going to be a process, with such a young team, but I think we are getting better," Ishee said.

Davis and Sharpe said they're looking forward to the first two road tests of the season.

"It's a different environment," Davis said. "We have to bring it the same way [as against Southern Miss]."

Added Sharpe: "The road is always tough, but it's another learning experience for us. We have to get ready for conference road games."

Missouri State is coming off a 10-20 season that included a 6-12 MVC record. They are 1-1 this year, losing to Georgetown 79-55 and beating Saint Louis 75-59.

Southeast beat the Bears 67-64 at the Show Me Center in last year's season opener.

The Bears feature one of the MVC's top players in 6-foot sophomore guard Casey Garrison, the reigning conference freshman of the year and a first-team all-league selection.

Garrison led Missouri State in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks as a rookie. Her 476 points was the top total among all Division I true freshman. She averaged 15.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Garrison scored 15 points in this year's opener against Georgetown and followed up with 20 points against Saint Louis.

"She's a great player," Ishee said. "I know they'll be coming after us, especially since we beat them last year."

Indiana State went 14-16 last season, including 10-8 in the MVC. The Sycamores defeated Southeast 75-72 in Cape Girardeau.

The Sycamores opened this season with a 77-73 win at Kansas State. They were scheduled for two more games before hosting Southeast in a 5 p.m. tipoff Tuesday.

"We'll really be challenged these next two games, no question about it," Ishee said.

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