Redhawks' rally falls short vs. EKU

Friday, February 12, 2010
Southeast Missouri State's Bianca Beck drives past Eastern Kentucky's Brittany Coles during Thursday's game at the Show Me Center. (LAURA SIMON)

The Southeast women cut into a 17-point deficit but lost 50-45

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team nearly pulled off a major comeback.

But the Redhawks could not quite overcome a horrendous start that saw them fall behind by 17 points less than nine minutes into Thursday's game.

Eastern Kentucky scored the first nine points and never lost the lead as the host Redhawks continued to slide with a 50-45 loss.

Southeast (7-16, 4-9 Ohio Valley Conference) suffered its fourth straight defeat and lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

The Redhawks fell from eighth place to last in the 10-team OVC, although they are just one-half game out of eighth. The top eight finishers qualify for the OVC tournament.

EKU (11-13, 7-7) remained in fourth place. The Colonels had dropped the previous seven meetings to Southeast, including 43-41 on Jan. 16 in Richmond, Ky.

"Being down 20-3 the first 10 minutes, that's your ballgame," said coach John Ishee after Southeast lost four straight OVC home games for the first time since the 2001-02 season. "You get down 9-0 at home, not playing with a sense of urgency against a team you proved you can beat."

Said guard Shelah Fields, one of nine freshmen on Southeast's 13-player roster: "I think part of it is nerves. It's a learning experience."

Despite the slow start and the fact Southeast shot just 26.8 percent, the Redhawks had a real chance to pull out the victory.

Freshman forward Brittany Harriell banked in a desperation 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left to make it 45-41. Southeast had not been that close since the opening moments.

The Redhawks had several opportunities to get even closer but could not capitalize as they went scoreless for more than five minutes.

EKU built its lead back to 48-41 but missed two front ends of 1-and-1s in the final minute to leave open the door.

A layup by Fields with one minute left and a follow shot by freshman forward Bailie Roberts 17 seconds later cut the deficit to 48-45.

The Colonels missed a shot with 17 seconds remaining and Southeast rebounded.

After a Southeast timeout with 11 seconds left, EKU committed a non-shooting foul -- just its sixth of the half -- with 7 seconds to go.

Southeast then turned over the ball on the inbound pass and EKU freshman center Alex Jones iced the victory by hitting two free throws.

"It's disappointing we didn't get a shot at the end, but that happens," Ishee said. "That's not what lost the game."

In addition to the slow start, Ishee pointed to free throws. Southeast made just 8 of 16.

"We shoot 50 percent, and some of those were 1-and-1s," he said.

Fields led Southeast in scoring with 11 points. Harriell had nine points and a season-high 10 rebounds.

"We definitely could have [won]," Harriell said. "We fought back. Just [poor] decision making in the last couple minutes."

Roberts, Southeast's No. 2 scorer and top 3-point shooter, returned to action after missing the previous six games with a foot injury.

Roberts, averaging 8.4 points and hitting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc, played 28 minutes off the bench. She had seven points and nine rebounds.

"I thought Bailie played well for her first time back," Ishee said. "She's a tough, competitive young woman."

Freshman guard Jasmine Davis and junior wing Lauren Sharpe -- Southeast's Nos. 1 and 3 scorers -- have missed the last 10 games after suffering season-ending injuries.

The Redhawks also played Thursday without freshman forward Patricia Mack, who has strep throat. She had scored in double figures in four of the past five contests.

Jones paced the Colonels with 15 points. Another EKU freshman, guard Shakeyia Colyer, added 13 points.

Southeast has another home game Saturday, against second-place Morehead State (18-8, 11-3).

The Eagles, who lead the nation in 3-pointers made, routed the visiting Redhawks 75-37 on Jan. 14.

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