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National runner-up stands in way of first win for Southeast women
The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team has two games this season against squads that played for a national championship over the past decade.
Southeast faces the first of those clubs today, visiting Louisville for a 6 p.m. tipoff. The Cardinals were the 2008-09 NCAA runners-up.
The Redhawks also play at 2000-01 national champion Notre Dame on Jan. 2.
"To have a couple of teams on your schedule who played in the NCAA championship game, that's pretty tough," Southeast coach John Ishee said. "We've got a really tough schedule, but hopefully it will make us a better team and get us ready for the conference."
While Notre Dame can wait for later, the Redhawks (1-2) first must contend with Louisville (2-1).
"They'll be very good," Ishee said. "They gave Tennessee a battle," losing 63-50 in the season opener.
Louisville is trying to bounce back from a down season just one year after playing for the national title.
The Cardinals went 14-18 overall and 5-11 in the Big East Conference last year, but they figure to be considerably improved with four returning starters.
Headlining the Cardinals is 6-foot-1 junior forward Monique Reid, who averaged 18.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game to earn first-team all-Big East honors last season.
Reid, the Big East's leading scorer during conference games with a 19.7 average, was named the Big East's most improved player.
Louisville also returns its No. 2 scorer from a year ago in 5-11 junior guard Becky Burke, who averaged 13.8 points per contest and made 72 3-pointers while connecting on 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Reid is Louisville's top scorer and rebounder so far this year, averaging 16.7 points and seven boards. She is shooting 60.5 percent from the field.
Shoni Schimmel, a 5-10 freshman guard, is averaging 11 points. She has hit 7 of 17 3-pointers (41.2 percent).
Burke, averaging eight points, has hit 6 of 13 3-pointers (46.2 percent).
Louisville crushed Ohio 84-47 and Houston Baptist 100-34 after opening with the 13-point loss to Tennessee.
Southeast's rugged nonconference schedule already has featured one NCAA tournament team from last year.
The Redhawks had their best performance of the young season, but defending Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion Northern Iowa spoiled Wednesday's home opener with a 70-57 victory.
"Playing these tough teams will definitely prepare us better for conference," junior point guard Bianca Beck said.
Southeast continues to be plagued by injury problems.
Sophomore forward Patricia Mack injured a knee during Saturday's win over Jackson State and did not play against Northern Iowa. Southeast is waiting on results of an MRI.
Sophomore guard Jasmine Davis, Southeast's leading scorer last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury, did not play Wednesday because the knee bothered her. She had her minutes limited in the first two games.
Brooke Taylor, a freshman forward from Bismarck, Mo., who was Southeast's top recruit, has not yet played due to an iron deficiency problem. Ishee said he doesn't know when Taylor will be ready for game action.