(Southeast Missouri State's Shelah Fields, left, and Brittany Harriel defend Harris-Stowe's Javette Tellis during the second half of their exhibition game Monday at the Show Me Center. Southeast won 93-46.)
The competition will get much tougher for the Redhawks today when they officially begin the Ty Margenthaler era with an 11 a.m. season opener at North Carolina State.
"They're definitely going to be a tough opponent," said junior forward Brittany Harriel, who had 19 points and 16 rebounds against Harris-Stowe. "We have to leave it all on the court."
Margenthaler, Southeast's first-year coach, inherited a squad that went 8-21 last year and has just 15 wins the past two seasons. He has been encouraged by what he's seen so far but knows the Redhawks will face a major test today.
"They'll be very challenging," Margenthaler said. "But we need to take care of what we do best. I think we've come a long way since we started practice, and I just want us to keep getting better."
That includes Sunday's matchup at St. Louis University.
"No question, this is a very tough, demanding nonconference schedule," Margenthaler said.
Margenthaler has liked the competitive nature the Redhawks have displayed so far, and he hopes that will give them a chance to be in the game against a squad like N.C. State.
"We'll compete. One thing this team will do is compete," he said.
N.C. State has a rich women's basketball history with 21 NCAA tournament appearances, most recently in 2009-10. The Wolfpack struggled last year, going 14-17 overall and 4-10 in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Wolfpack return four starters, led by 5-foot-11 senior forward Bonae Holston, who is 21st in career points and 12th in rebounds at N.C. State.
Holston earned second-team all-ACC honors last season, when she was fourth in the league in scoring at 16.3 points per game and third in rebounding with an 8.4 average.
Marissa Kastanek, a 5-9 junior guard, was honorable-mention all-ACC after averaging 13.6 points last year. She ranks seventh in school history with 122 made 3-pointers and her 35.3 career 3-point field-goal percentage is fourth in school history. She shot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc last year.
"They've got some really good players," Margenthaler said. "They're very athletic. They'll take the ball to the paint. Transition defense will be huge for us."
That was one of the areas Margenthaler liked the most in the game against Harris-Stowe. Southeast allowed no fast-break baskets.
Junior center Courtney Shiffer and junior forward Bailie Roberts both added 17 points for the Redhawks.
Shiffer, who also grabbed nine rebounds, said the Redhawks are looking forward to their first game that will count.
"We're ready to roll," she said.