Harriel helps spark Southeast women's basketball team in first conference win
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Southeast Missouri State senior forward Brittany Harriel technically returned to game action Monday at Belmont.
But the 'real' Brittany Harriel showed up for the first time in a while Saturday afternoon.
The Redhawks couldn't have been happier.
Harriel, who missed seven contests with a broken finger, scored a season-high 19 points as the Redhawks beat visiting Austin Peay 71-57 for their first Ohio Valley Conference win.
"It's great to have Brittany back, to do what she did," Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler said.
The Redhawks improved to 6-8 overall and 1-1 in OVC play as they snapped a season-high three-game losing streak. They are 1-1 in conference play for the first time since early during the 2010-11 season.
"It's good to get a win [in the OVC] this early," senior guard Bailie Roberts said.
Southeast opened a three-game homestand at the Show Me Center, where the Redhawks improved to 4-1 this season.
"We reminded our players the importance of home court. So far we've done a good job," Margenthaler said.
Harriel, Southeast's leading scorer and rebounder last year, got off to a strong start this season by reaching double-figure points in the Redhawks' first four games.
Then came the broken finger on her left (non-shooting) hand that kept her out of action for more than a month. She didn't have much practice time and was noticeably rusty at Belmont as she did not score in 10 minutes off the bench during a 71-58 loss in Southeast's OVC opener.
"She really only had a day and a half prep work after being cleared before the Belmont game," Margenthaler said. "This week was really important. We had three good practice days."
Harriel displayed little rust Saturday, especially during a first half when she scored 14 points -- one more than her previous season high -- as the Redhawks built a 37-27 lead at the break.
Harriel scored five more second-half points as the Redhawks pulled away to the lopsided victory. She hit 8 of 13 field-goal attempts, including her only 3-point try, while adding five rebounds and two steals.
"It's definitely good to be back on the court with my teammates," said Harriel, who again came off the bench and played 30 minutes.
Harriel is playing with her left hand wrapped. She said she continues to perform strengthening exercises for the hand but she feels relatively healthy.
"I'm still working with the trainer. I can always improve definitely, but I'm feeling good," Harriel said.
Southeast also got a big performance from junior-college transfer point guard Jordan Hunter, who scored a career-high 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting. She added six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a block.
Hunter's previous high-point total during her first season with the Redhawks was 18. She had 16 second-half points Saturday.
"I thought she played a complete game," Margenthaler said. "She's started off the conference season tremendously."
Hunter struggled with turnovers early in the season but has improved on that drastically. She has 13 assists against just four turnovers in the past two games while scoring 34 points.
"I'm trying to cut those down," said a smiling Hunter of turnovers. "Just make better decisions with the ball."
Also scoring in double figures for Southeast were Roberts with 12 points and sophomore guard Allyson Bradshaw with 10 points.
Roberts added six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Bradshaw, a Notre Dame Regional High School graduate who is playing with a torn labrum in her left (non-shooting) shoulder, hit 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Southeast also got a strong lift off the bench from freshman forward Connor King, a Jackson High School graduate.
King had team highs of seven rebounds and two blocks as she provided a boost inside when junior forward Patricia Mack and senior forward Courtney Shiffer got into first-half foul trouble.
Mack, Southeast's leading rebounder who had grabbed double-figure boards the last seven games, also encountered second-half foul problems. She tied her season low with four rebounds as she played just 18 minutes.
"Giving us the minutes she gave us, the rebounding, was big," Margenthaler said of King.
Freshman guard Kara Wright led Southeast with four steals to go along with five points and three assists.
The Redhawks shot a season-high 47.4 percent from the field, which they attributed to strong movement without the ball.
"We moved as a team really well," Hunter said. "It's what we emphasized in practice. ... getting open shots."
Austin Peay (5-8), which was playing its OVC opener, shot 37.3 percent.
About the only negative for Southeast was its 17 turnovers, although that was balanced out by Austin Peay also committing 17 turnovers.
"We talked a lot about playing a 40-minute game," Margenthaler said. "I don't think we played a great game but I thought we did what we wanted to do."
The Govs led only twice early, at 2-0 and 4-3. There were ties of 4-4 and 13-13 before the Redhawks began to assert themselves.
Southeast went ahead for good on a 3-pointer by Roberts that made it 16-13 with 9 minutes, 55 seconds left in the opening half.
It was 37-27 at the break. Austin Peay cut the deficit to five points three times early in the second half before Southeast pulled away for good.
The Redhawks led by at least 10 points for the final 9:13 and their biggest advantage was 18 points.
Southeast continues its homestand Monday at 6:30 p.m. against OVC rival Murray State.