LEFT: Southeast Missouri State coach Ty Margenthaler shouts to his players during the first half. More photos can be viewed online.
FRED LYNCH ~ email@example.com
Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach Ty Margenthaler wanted the Redhawks to face a strong challenge in their only exhibition game.
Southern Indiana provided that and then some.
The Division II Eagles from Evansville, Ind., led much of the way Sunday afternoon, including by 10 points midway through the second half.
But the Redhawks rallied down the stretch and scored the final seven points to pull out a 68-62 victory at the Show Me Center.
"I want the team to feel good about and get used to winning. This game is going to really help us in the future."
Southeast's top two scorers and rebounders from last year said Sunday's performance will benefit the Redhawks heading into Friday's regular-season opener against visiting Wright State.
"It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but a win's a win. We'll take it," senior forward Brittany Harriel said. "I think it was [important to win], to build confidence and give some experience to the new girls."
Said senior forward Bailie Roberts: "I think it showed us what we need to work on. It gives us confidence going into our next game."
Harriel, who averaged team bests of 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds last year, scored nine of her 12 points in the first half.
Forward Courtney Shiffer, Southeast's other senior, had seven points and seven rebounds.
Forward Patricia Mack, a fourth-year junior and Southeast's other most experienced player, contributed seven points, nine rebounds and three steals.
"Our seniors definitely led us," said Margenthaler, referring to Mack as well.
Also making a major contribution was sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw, a Notre Dame Regional High School graduate who played in all 29 games off the bench as a freshman last year.
Bradshaw, who started Sunday, scored eight of her 10 points in the second half. She hit two 3-pointers in the final five minutes.
Bradshaw's second 3-pointer, with 2 minutes 25 seconds left, put the Redhawks ahead for good at 64-62.
"They weren't falling at the beginning. That's usually how practices have been going," said Bradshaw, who missed her first three attempts from beyond the arc before finding the range.
Bradshaw was a solid contributor last season but hopes to take her game up several notches this year. Remaining in the starting lineup is a goal.
"I hope so. I have to work to keep it," said Bradshaw, who shot 29.1 percent from 3-point range last season, best on the squad among players with at least 30 attempts. "I'm more comfortable this year."
Margenthaler is looking for Bradshaw to provide a consistent threat from beyond the arc.
"Allyson really came through with some big shots at the end," Margenthaler said.
Joining Roberts, Harriel, Mack and Bradshaw in Sunday's starting lineup was junior college transfer point guard Jordan Hunter.
Hunter was responsible for eight of Southeast's 20 turnovers, but Margenthaler likes the way the speedy New Zealand native can push the ball and believes she'll direct Southeast's offense well.
Hunter had eight points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.
"She was a little up and down, but we want to push the ball this year," Margenthaler said.
Athletic guard Kara Wright saw the most action among Southeast's four freshmen and drew praise from Margenthaler.
Wright scored four points in 14 minutes and likely would have played more had she not recently been bothered by a minor knee injury.
"She did some really nice things. She's going to be a really good basketball player," Margenthaler said.
Sunday's contest featured 12 lead changes and seven ties. The Eagles, ahead 36-30 at halftime, opened up the game's biggest advantage of 53-43 with just under 10 minutes left.
Southeast, down 54-45, scored nine straight points in less than a minute to pull even. The run was fueled by three consecutive forced turnovers.
"In the second half we definitely picked it up. Our defense stepped it up to the next level," Roberts said.
The Eagles grabbed a 62-61 lead with a little more than three minutes remaining but did not score again.
Bradshaw's 3-pointer at the 2:25 mark put Southeast back on top for good.
Harriel forced a turnover with 15 seconds left, leading to Shiffer being fouled with 13 seconds remaining. She made both free throws for a 66-62 lead.
Another turnover by the Eagles with six seconds left ended their upset hopes. Roberts' two free throws with three seconds to play rounded out the scoring. Southeast was 11 of 12 from the line in the game.
"We really picked up the defensive pressure without fouling," Margenthaler said about Southeast's second-half push.