Women eye upset on road vs. Tigers

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Southeast Missouri State head coach Ty Margenthaler motions to players during the second half of a game against Arkansas State on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, at the Show Me Center. SEMO won 56-52. (Kristin Eberts)

The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team hopes to finish off its most travel-heavy period of the season with a bang.

Southeast (3-3) will shoot for a big upset today when it visits the University of Missouri (4-2) for a 7 p.m. tipoff in Columbia, Mo.

"We're excited. It's a great game for us and a great challenge," second-year Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler said. "I know a lot of our in-state kids are excited to play a program like Missouri."

Today's game ends a stretch that has the Redhawks playing six straight contests away from Cape Girardeau. That includes five true road games and one neutral site matchup.

"It's been a tough stretch for us but it's only going to make us better in the long run," Margenthaler said.

Margenthaler likes the way the Redhawks have handled their long road stretch. They've won two of the five games, one-point victories at Arkansas State and against Texas-Pan American in Houston Saturday.

Junior college transfer point guard Jordan Hunter drove for the game-winning layup in the closing seconds of both wins.

Southeast trailed by double figures at halftime of each contest before rallying. The Redhawks were 0-17 last year when behind at halftime.

"Being able to win close games can only be a confidence booster for us," Margenthaler said. "It shows we're never out of a game. We never give up."

The Redhawks are already nearly halfway to their seven-victory total from last season despite having played just one home game.

"We're doing a lot of positive things early. That's a tribute to their hard work," Margenthaler said. "We are making strides but we still have a long way to go."

MU, picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams during its first year in the Southeastern Conference, is off to a solid start after struggling the past several seasons.

The Tigers went 13-18 overall and a last-place 2-16 in the Big 12 Conference a year ago. They have had five straight losing seasons, winning no more than 13 games in any year during that span.

MU won its first four games this season, beating Saint Louis, Chicago State and Western Illinois at home before knocking off Wichita State at the Cancun Challenge.

The Tigers have dropped their last two, against Green Bay and Minnesota at the Cancun Challenge.

"They've played well so far," Margenthaler said.

MU returned three starters from last season, including top returning scorer Morgan Eye, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard who averaged 8.1 points as a freshman.

The Tigers have been paced so far by 5-10 senior guard Sydney Crafton, who leads the squad with averages of 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Crafton, who started 14 games last year and averaged 6.2 points, is shooting 54.2 percent from the field.

MU tops the SEC with 150 3-pointers attempted, but the Tigers are shooting just 30.7 percent from beyond the arc, having made 46, an average of 7.7 per game.

By comparison, Southeast is making an Ohio Valley Conference-best 37.3 percent of its 3-point attempts, led by sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw from Notre Dame Regional High School. She is 13 of 27 (48.1 percent).

Eye is MU's most prolific 3-point shooter, making 16 of 39 (41 percent). Bri Kulas, a 6-1 junior forward, is 8 of 17 (47.1 percent).

"They're shooting a lot of threes. That's their bread and butter. And they like to pressure," Margenthaler said. "A big key will be how we handle their pressure."

Southeast has already played one major program tough, falling at nationally-ranked Kansas by 10 points.

Margenthaler believes the Redhawks can give the Tigers a strong challenge even though MU leads the all-time series 13-1. Southeast's lone win over the Tigers came at home during the 1998-99 season.

"We feel like we match up well with Missouri," Margenthaler said. "If we go up there with a great attitude, I feel like we'll compete with them for 40 minutes."

Southeast, following today's game, returns home to face Illinois-Chicago (1-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Redhawks lost to the Flames 69-54 last year in Chicago.

Harriel update

Margenthaler had relatively good news regarding senior forward Brittany Harriel, who suffered a fractured left ring finger during Friday's loss at Houston.

Margenthaler said Harriel is expected to miss roughly four to five weeks but she won't need surgery. Harriel should, at the latest, return for the Dec. 31 OVC opener at Belmont.

"No surgery. That's a positive. It could be a lot worse," Margenthaler said. "We should definitely have Brittany back for our first conference game and maybe even a week earlier."

Margenthaler said Harriel's absence will free up more playing time for the likes of freshman forward Connor King, a Jackson High School graduate coming off a 10-rebound performance Saturday against Texas-Pan American.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: