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Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team drops OVC opener
The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team couldn't have scripted a better first half Monday afternoon.
Belmont's powerful second half, however, prevented the Redhawks from having a shot to win their Ohio Valley Conference opener.
Southeast held a nine-point halftime lead and expanded the margin to 10 points early in the second half.
But first-year OVC member Belmont rallied to pull away for a 71-58 victory in Nashville, Tenn.
The Redhawks fell to 5-8 overall as they suffered their third straight loss. Belmont improved to 7-7 overall and 2-0 in the OVC.
"It's tough to win on the road in conference play. This [Belmont] is a good basketball team," Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler said.
Belmont also trailed at halftime -- by three points -- during its conference opener Saturday at home against SIU Edwardsville. The Bruins rallied to win by 14 points.
The Bruins' halftime deficit was larger Monday as Southeast used a strong opening period to build a 34-25 advantage.
Belmont hit its first two 3-point attempts to grab a 6-0 lead. The Redhawks answered with four 3-pointers, including consecutive treys by sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw to lead 16-8.
Bradshaw, a Notre Dame Regional High School graduate, is playing with a torn labrum in her left (non-shooting) shoulder that forced her to miss a recent game. She scored 10 points off the bench Monday.
"I thought Allyson really toughed it out and played a good game," Margenthaler said. "I was proud of her effort."
Southeast shot 41.2 percent in the first half and committed just four turnovers to build its margin.
"I was excited about the way we played for 20 minutes," Margenthaler said. "We played together and with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I told them this is how you win in conference play and this is how you win on the road. I thought we showed great toughness in the first half."
The second half began well for the Redhawks. A basket by senior forward Courtney Shiffer built their largest lead of the day at 39-29.
Southeast was ahead 44-35 when Belmont scored 14 straight points to take control. The Bruins went ahead for good with just under 12 minutes left.
Southeast cut the deficit to one point but got no closer as Belmont ended up pulling away down the stretch.
The Redhawks trailed just 57-52 with under four minutes to play but were outscored 14-6 the rest of the way. The Bruins outscored the Redhawks 46-24 in the second half.
"I give Belmont a lot of credit, they showed resilience coming back and making a run," Margenthaler said. "We just did not withstand that run and we didn't show a lot of toughness when they started coming back. Belmont played harder and smarter than us in the final 20 minutes."
Senior guard Bailie Roberts led Southeast with a season-high 18 points -- one off her career high.
Junior college transfer point guard Jordan Hunter had 13 points and a career-high seven assists against two turnovers.
Junior forward Patricia Mack recorded 11 rebounds, marking her seventh straight double-figure rebounding performance.
Senior forward Brittany Harriel, arguably Southeast's top all-around player, returned after missing the previous seven games with a broken finger.
But Harriel, Southeast's leading scorer and rebounder last year, was rusty. She did not score while grabbing three rebounds in 10 minutes off the bench.
"I know the time off hurt her," Margenthaler said. "We need her to get her rhythm back and her confidence back."
Southeast shot just 28.6 percent in the second half and finished at 36.4 percent. The Redhawks missed all six of their second-half 3-pointers after being 5 of 13 from beyond the arc in the opening period.
The Redhawks committed 11 turnovers in the second half and ended the game with 15.
Belmont was paced by senior point guard Katie Brooks with 21 points -- one off her career high set Saturday against SIUE.
The Bruins shot 47.5 percent for the game, 60 percent in the decisive second half. Belmont turned the ball over 13 times and outrebounded Southeast 39-32.