Beck among Southeast Missouri State basketball women's team's seniors saying farewell

Friday, February 17, 2012
Southeast Missouri State’s Bianca Beck drives against Tennessee State’s Alena Morris during a game earlier this month at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

Bianca Beck experienced nothing but team success in high school while playing for a powerful Incarnate Word Academy program in suburban St. Louis.

Beck has found wins hard to come by at Southeast Missouri State, but the Redhawks' senior point guard said she has no regrets as her college basketball career nears its end.

Beck will play her final home game Saturday when the Redhawks face Tennessee-Martin. Beck, along with fellow seniors Karley Evans and Amber Holmes, will be honored before the 7 p.m. senior day tipoff at the Show Me Center.

"The wins and losses weren't as good as I hoped, but overall it's been a very good experience," Beck said. "I'm happy I chose this place. I made a lot of good friends and I was able to stay close to home. I'm blessed I've been here."

Beck came to Southeast after a stellar prep career. She helped lead Incarnate Word to a 31-1 record, state title and No. 10 national ranking as a sophomore. Incarnate Word went 29-4 and finished as state runner-up during her senior season.

Southeast Missouri State's Bianca Beck drives against Tennessee State's Alena Morris during the second half Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

Beck joined the Redhawks at a time when the program was thriving, but she hasn't been able to experience similar success.

Southeast went 15-15 during Beck's freshman season but since then is a combined 21-62, including 11-38 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Redhawks are 6-20 overall and 3-10 in the OVC this year.

"Going from my entire Incarnate career, I never lost a home game. I only lost nine games in four years," Beck said. "It was a big adjustment my freshman year and especially my sophomore and junior years."

Beck has made her mark with the Redhawks as a durable floor leader who never has missed a college game.

Saturday's contest will mark her 113th appearance, including 82 starts. She is tied for third all-time for most games played during Southeast's Division I history.

Beck started 14 times as a freshman -- she was the first true freshman to start at point guard in a season opener in program history -- 22 times as a sophomore and 20 times as a junior. She has started all 26 games this year.

"I'm proud of that," Beck said about her iron-woman streak. "My dad actually told me that I might be one of the few people here to never miss a game."

Beck has saved her best for last, turning in her most consistent season under first-year coach Ty Margenthaler. She is averaging a career-high 6.8 points per game with a career-high 90 assists.

Beck leads the Redhawks in assists and steals (35) while ranking third in scoring. She is eighth in the OVC in assists (3.5 per game) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio.

"Bianca is having a tremendous year as a point guard. She really understands her role," Margenthaler said. "Her leadership, handling the pressure on a day-to-day basis have been outstanding."

While Beck won't be able to reap the rewards, she believes Southeast soon will be an OVC power under Margenthaler.

"Definitely," said Beck, a psychology major with a minor in exercise science who is scheduled to graduate in May and hopes to be a sports psychologist. "This program hasn't turned around this year, but I feel this was the first step to becoming a winning program."

Margenthaler appreciates the role Southeast's three seniors have played in making the coaching transition as smooth as possible.

Evans, a shooting guard, has been a key player the past two years after transferring from junior college. She is second on this season's team in 3-pointers with 29 while averaging 6.7 points to rank fourth.

Holmes, a forward/center who has been in the program the last four years, has seen limited action at Southeast.

"They are three great seniors on and off the court," Margenthaler said. "I appreciate and respect how easy they've made the transition for me and my staff. They've been great, and I'd really love to see them go to the conference tournament. That's a goal of mine for them."

Despite another tough season, Southeast has a solid shot to make the OVC tournament for the first time in three years.

"It would be awesome. I haven't been there since my freshman season," Beck said.

Beck said the seniors would love to end their home careers with a bang by upsetting defending OVC tournament champion Tennessee-Martin, which pounded Southeast 88-47 in Martin, Tenn., on Jan. 28.

"If we could knock them off, it would be just an awesome senior gift," Beck said.

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