The Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team will try break its season-long five-game losing streak Saturday in the friendly confines of the Show Me Center.
But it's not like the Redhawks are catching a break when Eastern Kentucky visits for a 3 p.m. tipoff.
The Colonels (12-7, 6-2) are second in the Ohio Valley Conference East Division and third in the overall OVC standings.
Southeast (8-13, 2-6) is fifth in the six-team OVC West Division and 10th overall in the 12-team league halfway through its conference schedule. The top eight finishers qualify for the OVC tournament.
"Eastern Kentucky is a really good basketball team that is playing well, and we're going to have our hands full," Southeast coach Ty Margenthaler said. "It's a tough stretch for us right now, but we've just got to continue to grow and get better. We've just got to keep fighting."
EKU struggled last year, going 13-16 overall and 7-9 in the OVC, but a host of strong returning players led to the Colonels being picked second in the OVC East during this year's preseason poll. They earned the fourth-most points of any conference team.
"They've got a very experienced team," Margenthaler said.
The Colonels are paced by one of the OVC's top post players in 6-foot-2 senior Jade Barber, who is averaging a double-double of 13 points and a league-leading 10.8 rebounds. Barber is shooting 56.8 percent from the field and has 36 blocks -- both second in the conference. She has recorded 10 double-doubles of points and rebounds.
"She's very good -- a big post player down low," Margenthaler said.
Other double-figure scorers for EKU are 5-8 junior guard Marie Carpenter (10.9 ppg), an all-OVC preseason selection, and 5-11 senior guard Brittany Coles (10.1 ppg).
"They're a very athletic team," said Margenthaler, whose squad lost to EKU 52-37 in Richmond, Ky., during last year's only meeting between the programs.
The Redhawks are 6-3 at the Show Me Center this season, compared to 1-10 on the road (Southeast also owns a neutral-site victory).
EKU is 10-1 at home this season but just 2-4 in true road games, although they are 2-1 in conference road games.
"We've played well at home and hopefully we can take advantage of that," Margenthaler said.
Margenthaler is hopeful that Southeast will regain the services of senior forward Courtney Shiffer, who has missed the last five games due to a concussion suffered during practice.
Southeast's inside depth has been hampered without Shiffer, the team's leader in blocked shots.
"We really need to get Courtney back," Margenthaler said. "I'm hoping we will. Adding her to our lineup will really help us."