The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team took nearly five minutes to score its first point against Austin Peay on Thursday night.
The result of the early offensive struggles was a deficit the Redhawks never could overcome in a 65-57 loss in their OVC conference opener at the Show Me Center.
Southeast (2-5, 0-1 in the OVC) committed turnovers on its first three possessions and had a shot blocked on its fourth trip to the offensive end, which resulted in a 7-0 head start for the Governors that would eventually grow into a double-digit lead in the first half.
"We do that a lot, unfortunately," Southeast sophomore Katie Norman said. "We tend to dig ourselves in a hole and then we always bust our butts and find a way back in the game, but at this level you can't get down big because every night every team is coming to play, so when you get down it's just basically working uphill to get back in the game."
Austin Peay (2-6, 1-0 in the OVC) responded with an 11-2 run of its own and eventually took a 10-point lead into halftime.
Southeast forced 24 turnovers in the game.
"That's definitely a positive," Southeast sophomore Brittany Harriel said. "I didn't know that. When we do force them we need to take the time and capitalize on those turnovers and turn them into baskets."
The Redhawks, who entered the game shooting 32 percent from the floor, struggled to convert on the offensive end, particularly in the first half. Despite forcing 13 first-half turnovers, Southeast scored just six points off of the Governors' miscues.
Southeast saved it's best run at the Governors for the latter part of the second half, going on a 12-0 spurt to tie the game 51-51. However, Austin Peay went on an 8-0 spurt that but the Governors back in control.
"It was kind of to the point before the run we were trading baskets and we would get closer to taking that lead, and then we'd let them score. So it was definitely an uphill battle," Harriel said.
The Redhawks players said a combination of timely defensive stops and a more aggressive offensive approach led to the late run.
"We always want to do it," Harriel said of the change in attitude on offense. "It just doesn't happen all the time.
Austin Peay made up for its turnover problem by shooting 47 percent from the floor and going 14 of 16 from the free-throw line.
"I was happy in spurts defensively, but in the big picture of things we still have a long ways to go," said Norman, who tied a career high with 19 points. "We don't just want to be a good defensive team. We want to be a great defensive team."
Harriel added 13 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Bailie Roberts finished with 10 points.
Meghan Bussabarger scored a game-high 20 points for Austin Peay. Whitney Hanley added 17 points and pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
Southeast will play Tennesse State at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Show Me Center.