Improving Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team atones for another 2011-12 loss

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Southeast Missouri State’s Jordan Hunter drives against Illinois-Chicago’s Rachel Story during the first half Saturday at the Show Me Center. Southeast won 67-52. (Fred Lynch)

The considerable improvement in this year's Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team has been apparent during two games in particular.

Those contests have seen the Redhawks beat squads they lost to by at least 15 points last season.

Southeast's latest revenge victory came Saturday afternoon, 67-52 over Illinois Chicago in front of more than 500 fans at the Show Me Center.

"It's a completely different year this year," sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw said.

The Redhawks improved to 4-4, the first time they have a .500 record through eight games since the 2008-09 season.

Southeast Missouri State's Patricia Mack looks to shoot as Illinois-Chicago's Megan Wallace looks on during the first half Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

Southeast won only three nonconference contests during coach Ty Margenthaler's first season last year, when the Redhawks went 7-22.

"This basketball team is growing in the right way, and I'm excited to see it," Margenthaler said. "Our confidence is soaring every day."

The Redhawks also are excited to be 2-0 at home. Margenthaler said one of Southeast's big goals is to go undefeated at the Show Me Center.

"We just knew we had to win this game," said junior forward Patricia Mack, also emphasizing the importance of Southeast protecting its home court.

Mack and rookie point guard Jordan Hunter highlighted the victory with career performances.

Southeast Missouri State's Kara Wright drives against Illinois-Chicago's Megan Wallace during the first half Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the Show Me Center. (Fred Lynch)

Mack pulled down 17 rebounds, surpassing her previous career high of 13 set last season.

"That was awesome. I see the ball, it's mine," said a smiling Mack, who scored six points. "I wasn't making the shots -- I knew I had to get the rebounds."

Mack leads Southeast in rebounding with an 8.5 average.

"She's an energy person. You can't coach that," Margenthaler said. "Everybody wants to be around Tricia because of her energy, her leadership."

Hunter, a junior college All-American last year and a member of the New Zealand national team, continued her steady improvement after a somewhat shaky start to her first Division I season.

Hunter scored a team-high 18 points, surpassing her previous Southeast high of 10 points that she had reached in two of the past three games. She also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

"You can tell she's starting to feel more comfortable," Margenthaler said. "She's a point guard who can score."

Said Hunter: "I'm a lot more comfortable now. I guess I was still trying to get the feel of the team [early in the year]."

Bradshaw scored 13 points, 10 in the second half. She is Southeast's top 3-point threat, but she made just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc Saturday.

The Notre Dame Regional High School graduate did much of her offensive damage on drives to the basket.

"I know I'm a shooter, but I have to be more than that," said Bradshaw, who leads Southeast with a 10.5 scoring average.

Senior guard Bailie Roberts scored 10 points and added six rebounds.

Margenthaler credited Southeast's bench, which has been a big part of the Redhawks' resurgence this season.

Freshmen Kara Wright, Olivia Hackmann, Connor King and Dru Haertling -- King and Haertling are both Jackson High School graduates -- all played at least eight minutes.

Wright, Hackmann and King combined for 14 points and nine rebounds.

Wright scored all six of her points in the second half. She added five rebounds, a team-high three assists, one block and one steal in 22 minutes.

"I think our bench really came through in the second half," Margenthaler said.

UIC (1-4), which trailed most of the game, rallied for a 28-22 lead late in the first half.

Hunter's layup with 12 seconds left put Southeast ahead 32-31 at the break. UIC never caught up.

Southeast, leading 34-33, took control with a 12-0 run that made it 46-33. The Flames pulled within 52-47 late, but Southeast finished strong.

"I thought we played a really good team game," Bradshaw said.

The Redhawks shot a solid 42.4 percent, including a sizzling 58.3 percent in the second half. UIC shot 29 percent, just 18.8 percent in the final period.

Southeast made 15 of 17 free throws -- 88.2 percent -- and only had 11 turnovers. About the only negative was the Redhawks' 2-for-18 3-point shooting.

"I thought it was our best game of the season," Margenthaler said.

The Redhawks return to action Wednesday, visiting SIU Carbondale at 7:05 p.m.

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