Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team notches first win

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Southeast Missouri State's Karley Evans drives past Arkansas State's Lunden Roberts during the first half Tuesday at the Show Me Center. Southeast won 56-52. (Kristin Eberts)

Allyson Bradshaw saw it coming, Jane Morrill's outstretched paw closing quickly.

Bradshaw went up for a 3-pointer from the corner before Morrill, her former Notre Dame Regional High School teammate, could get there.

"Oh yeah, I saw her long arms," Bradshaw said about Morrill. "It felt really good, a lot better than her stuffing it back in my face."

Bradshaw's 3-pointer with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in Tuesday's game against Arkansas State gave the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team the lead for good. The Redhawks held on for their first victory of the season, a 56-52 decision over the Red Wolves.

The win was the first under first-year Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler.

Southeast Missouri State's Shelah Fields takes a shot during the first half.

"The play was designed for me to catch and shoot it," Bradshaw said. "If I didn't have the shot, I was supposed to kick it to another girl for the 3."

Bradshaw lacked confidence as the shot left her hand.

"It kind of felt a little off, so I was kind of mad at myself for a second," she said.

But the ball swished through to break a 50-50 deadlock.

"I didn't really pay much attention to [facing Bradshaw] until it came to the point where she knocked a 3 in over me," Morrill said. "That was kind of one of those feelings of, 'Well there she is.'"

Arkansas State's Jane Morrill shoots a 3-pointer over Southeast Missouri State's Patricia Mack during the second half.

Morrill blamed herself for allowing Bradshaw to get off the shot.

"That was my ball the whole time, and I didn't get out there quick enough to play it, and that's what I get," Morrill said.

Bradshaw and Morrill teamed to lead Notre Dame to the Class 4 state title game in 2010. The two exchanged text messages Monday night in preparation for their first meeting as college foes.

"It was really exciting," Bradshaw said. "I have been talking about it probably for a week straight, just telling all my teammate, 'Hey, she's good. You've got your work cut out for you.' No, I wouldn't say it was awkward, but was definitely weird seeing her on the other side of the court."

Morrill, a sophomore, missed her first four shots but finished with a game-high 19 points. She added five rebounds.

"Never really did get that sickening feeling of nervousness," she said. "I was just pumped up, ready to go."

But it was Bradshaw who made the big shot down the stretch. It capped a strong performance from the freshman. She scored 13 points, including hitting 3 of 5 from beyond the arc.

"It definitely took me a while to adjust, but the coach just keeps telling me, 'You've got to have confidence. I don't consider you a freshman. You're just like everyone else on the team. I expect everything from you just like I expect everything from every other player,'" Bradshaw said. "I definitely have my rough patches, keeping my confidence up just because I'm young. It's definitely getting easier as we go."

Margenthaler said the Redhawks' game against Samford bolstered Bradshaw's confidence, and he expects her to continue taking on a bigger role with the team.

"I could just see her eyes that you know what, I do belong at this level," Margenthaler said about the Samford game. "The last two days in practice, I've really been putting her on that starting group and she's been doing great. I will tell you right now, she can get to the rim, she can shoot it and that's something that we're needing. I hope this is a little coming out party for Allyson."

The Redhawks entered halftime with a one-point lead thanks to hot outside shooting. Karley Evans hit all three of her 3-point attempts to help Southeast hit 7 of its 9 3-pointers in the opening half. The Redhawks finished 9 of 16 (56 percent) on 3-pointers. Evans led the Redhawks with 17 points.

"They've just been spending a little extra time in the gym before practice, after practice," Margenthaler said. "We changed some things up a little bit. All our assistant coaches have groups now. They come in about 20 minutes earlier to get extra shooting because we don't get enough in practice. I just think the practice and repetition is paying off."

The Redhawks (1-6) clung to a 50-47 lead when Brittany Harriel missed a layup with 4:38 left, which caused Margenthaler to fall to the ground next to his bench.

"I'm really passionate," he said. "That's just how I coach. I try not to go too crazy on the sideline, but I want these young ladies to do so well. They work so hard and we missed a lot of bunnies inside. ... That would have been a real back-breaker. It didn't go in, and it definitely hurt. I hurt for her because I know she wants it to go in, so I get a little emotional there and a little intense."

Morrill cut the Red Wolves' deficit to one with 58.1 seconds left, but Harriel pushed the lead back to three points with a jumper. Bianca Beck added a free throw with 18.4 seconds left to give the Redhawks a four-point lead.

Arkansas State's Meghan Lewis missed a 3-pointer and Patricia Mack grabbed the rebound with 9 seconds left, seemingly icing the win. But the Redhawks were called for traveling while prematurely celebrating their first win. That gave the Red Wolves a final chance down four points with 2.5 second left, but they couldn't get off a shot.

"The first thing I thought about was our players, how happy I am, honestly, for those young girls," Margenthaler said. "You should see them every day. They bring it. We don't have a lot of days off. We compete, we work. Just to see their smiles and them feel good about themselves, that's why I coach."

The victory was Margenthaler's first as a college coach after serving as an assistant at Wisconsin and Bradley.

"I'm going to go home with my family and enjoy it with them and just move on for tomorrow," he said. "I owe everything to my family. Without them, I couldn't do this profession, and so it's going to be quality time with my wife and two kids. ... We're going to go home and maybe order pizza and enjoy it."

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