First OVC victory eludes Southeast women's basketball team

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team had plenty of opportunities to pick up its first Ohio Valley Conference win Saturday.

Southeast failed to capitalize and host Tennessee State walked away with a 54-50 victory.

"It was there for us to take, no question about it," Southeast coach John Ishee said.

The Redhawks suffered their fifth consecutive loss as they fell to 2-5 overall and 0-2 in OVC play. TSU is 3-4 and 1-1.

"We should have won," senior center Lesley Adams said.

Two days after trailing virtually the whole game -- mostly by double figures -- during its OVC opener, a 76-63 loss at Austin Peay, Southeast was in the contest from start to finish Saturday.

There were seven ties and five lead changes. Neither squad had an advantage larger than six points.

"We're definitely getting closer," Adams said.

Southeast was hurt by its season-long nemesis -- turnovers. The Redhawks had 22 after they entered play averaging nearly 23 per game.

The Redhawks also shot just 27.3 percent from the field (15 of 55), missed 10 free throws (going 15 of 25 for 60 percent) and gave up 21 offensive rebounds.

"Turnovers, offensive rebounds and missed free throws -- that's not a recipe to win on the road," Ishee said.

TSU's numbers weren't much prettier in the sloppy contest. The Tigers had 21 turnovers and shot 32.3 percent (20 of 62).

Freshman forward Bailie Roberts was Southeast's lone double-figure scorer as she had 12 points to match the high total of her young college career. She also had six rebounds.

Roberts hit 3 of 4 3-pointers, but the rest of the Redhawks were just 2 of 15 from beyond the arc.

Adams grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds to go with seven points. Freshman wing Katie Norman had eight points.

TSU was paced by preseason all-OVC junior forward Jasmine Smith with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes.

Smith, who normally starts but came off the bench Saturday, was scoreless and had three rebounds in seven first-half minutes. She made several big plays late.

"She's a handful," Ishee said.

Southeast lost despite TSU getting virtually nothing from star senior forward Oby Okafor.

Okafor, another normal starter who came off the bench Saturday, played just 13 minutes despite not being in foul trouble.

Okafor had only two points and three rebounds. She was averaging 15.3 points and seven boards.

The Redhawks scored the game's first six points to account for the biggest lead for either side.

TSU was up 25-23 at halftime, but there were four ties and four lead changes in the final period.

The Tigers went ahead for good on a three-point play by Smith that made it 42-40 with 5 minutes, 55 seconds left.

Southeast fell behind 45-40 and also 52-47 with under two minutes left. The Redhawks closed within 53-50 on two free throws by Adams with 5.7 seconds left, but a TSU foul shot iced the victory.

"A shot here and there was basically the difference," Ishee said.

A key play occurred with just under a minute left. TSU led 52-48 and missed a 3-pointer but got the long rebound. The Tigers did not score on the ensuing possession but drained most of the shot clock.

"They got some big offensive rebounds late that hurt us," Ishee said. "But I loved the fact we never quit. They had tears in their eyes after the loss and that's a good sign."

The Redhawks can take some consolation in that their first two OVC games were at teams predicted to finish near the top of the standings, Austin Peay second and TSU third. Southeast was slated for seventh place.

"We played two of the better teams on the road," Ishee said.

Ishee said he still has plenty of faith in his young squad that features nine freshmen and just one senior.

"We just have to shore a few things up, but I think we'll win our share of games," Ishee said. "We're going to be all right."

Southeast is back in action Wednesday, hosting nonconference opponent Bethel College.

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