Freshman guard Olivia Hackmann gave the Redhawks their biggest boost Saturday, with a major assist from junior forward Patricia Mack.
Hackmann was Southeast's only double-figure scorer with 15 points off the bench and Mack continued her dominance on the boards with 16 rebounds.
The duo paved the way for a 56-47 win over visiting Western Illinois as the Redhawks improved to 5-5 and remained undefeated in three home games.
"We just came out ready to play," said Hackmann after Southeast led from start to finish, including by 24 at one point in the second half.
The 5-foot-10 Hackmann was the Missouri Class 4 player of the year last season as a senior at Jefferson City Helias High School.
Hackmann did not play nearly as much as Southeast's other three freshmen early in the season. She had just two points and two rebounds in the Redhawks' first five games.
But Hackmann has come on lately, recording 18 points and 12 rebounds in the previous four games. Those totals include a 10-point performance and a seven-rebound outing.
"I was struggling in the beginning. Now I'm definitely getting more comfortable," Hackmann said.
Hackmann looked very comfortable Saturday in front of an announced 702 fans at the Show Me Center. She hit 6 of 10 field goals and all three of her free throws. She also added three steals and two blocked shots.
"She's a big-time player," Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler said.
Hackmann scored nine first-half points, including a tough mid-range jumper at the buzzer that sent Southeast to the intermission up 30-14.
Hackmann nailed three more mid-range jumpers in the second half.
"The jumper is more my shot right now," Hackmann said.
Hackmann's three second-half field goals proved timely. They came every time WIU made a run.
The Leathernecks (4-5), who had a three-game winning streak snapped, scored 10 straight points to cut a 40-16 deficit to 40-26 with just under 11 minutes left.
Hackmann answered with a jumper.
WIU cut the deficit to 47-35 before Hackmann drilled a shot with a little more than five minutes remaining.
Southeast saw its lead trimmed to 52-44 when Hackmann countered with 1:39 to play.
"It got a little tight. She'd always make a pull-up jumper," Margenthaler said. "I'm really happy for her."
Senior guard Bailie Roberts said balance has helped the Redhawks get off to a solid start this season after struggling in recent years.
"Probably the most awesome thing about it, each game we've won, we've had a different player step up," Roberts said. "Tonight it was Olivia. Without her we wouldn't have won."
The same can probably be said for Mack, who had her fourth straight double-figure rebounding performance. She fell just short of her career-high 17 rebounds the previous Saturday during a win against Illinois-Chicago.
"I'm on a roll," said a smiling Mack, averaging 9.5 rebounds per game. "I don't know what it is, but I love it."
Mack credits instincts for helping her dominate the boards in recent outings.
"I want to say I'm just there sometimes," said Mack, who added six points, four assists and two steals.
Hackmann wasn't Southeast's only freshman to perform well.
The Redhawks also continued to get solid contributions off the bench from guard Kara Wright from Louisville, Ky., and two Jackson High School products, forward Connor King and guard Dru Haertling.
Wright recorded six points and five rebounds. She hit two free throws with 51 seconds left for the final margin of victory after the Leathernecks cut the deficit to 54-47 -- the closest they had been since early in the game.
King grabbed six rebounds and Haertling made a 3-pointer in her only shot attempt.
"Our freshmen are playing big minutes and providing quality minutes," Margenthaler said.
Roberts and sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw from Notre Dame Regional High School added eight points apiece. Junior college transfer point guard Jordan Hunter contributed seven points and three steals.
Southeast shot 52.4 percent in the first half but the big story was the Redhawks' defense, which totally suffocated WIU for the first 27-plus minutes. WIU had only 16 points during that period and trailed 40-16.
"We definitely stepped up on the defensive end," Hackmann said.
WIU scored 31 points over the final 12:26 but still shot shot just 28.1 percent for the game. The Leathernecks were averaging 64.6 points.
"They run great motion and shoot the ball extremely well," Margenthaler said. "I thought our first 25 minutes was key. We took them out of a lot of things they wanted to do."
Southeast shot 42.9 percent and held a 42-32 rebounding advantage. About the only negative was the Redhawks' season-high 24 turnovers. WIU had 20 turnovers.
The Redhawks have their best record through 10 games since the 2007-08 season. Their five nonconference wins are their most since 2007-08 and they are 3-0 at home for the first time since 2008-09.
"It's a good change," Roberts said.
Southeast takes a break for finals before returning to action Dec. 16 at Western Kentucky.
"Tonight was our first final," said a satisfied Mack.