Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball team needed someone to step up and chase away the frustrations of three straight home conference losses.
Enter Lori Chase.
Junior forward Chase, Southeast's leading point producer, led the Otahkians to a must-win 77-53 victory over Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee State University at the Show Me Center Monday night.
"We needed a big pick-me-up," said Chase, who had game-high totals of 31 points and 11 rebounds. "We needed this one to stay positive and stay in the conference race."
The win, in the finale of a four-game homestand, was big for several reasons.
It vaulted the Otahkians (9-6, 2-3) out of the OVC cellar, broke a three-game losing streak and built a little momentum and confidence for an upcoming conference road trip. Southeast plays six of its next eight games on the road against conference opponents.
Said Southeast coach Ed Arnzen, "You lose three in a row and, even though they were against good teams, you start doubting your ability. Everybody does it. To get a win now gives us a good feeling."
TSU (2-11, 1-4), coming off its first conference win against Tennessee-Martin, seemed to be riding that momentum in the first half of play.
The visitors outshot and outrebounded the Otahkians -- 44 percent to 40 percent from the floor and 20 to 16 on the boards -- en route to a 35-31 halftime advantage.
Five points by Chase within the last 17 seconds loomed large as it cut the TSU lead from nine points to four going in at the half.
In the second half, Chase scored 17 points as Southeast raised its intensity level on both ends of the court, outscoring the opposition 46-18.
"I thought LaShelle Porter ran the show better in the second half and got the ball to Lori Chase who either scored or got fouled," said Arnzen.
Porter, a junior point guard, was the second-leading scorer for the Otahkians with 14 points and had a team-high four assists.
Defensively, Southeast held the OVC's second leading scorer and leading rebounder LaRissa Thomas to 10 points and only two boards. Latoya Clay shared scoring honors for the Lady Tigers with 10.
"Lori (Chase) was on Thomas," said Arnzen, "but we tried to get her a little help, because it's hard to stop her one-on-one."
Thomas, saddled with foul trouble, played only 22 minutes of the contest.
"It was just a blue-collar job," said Arnzen. "We didn't play exceptionally well, although it was a lot better in the second half."