A game - Otahks win big

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Ed Arnzen left the emotion for another time following his final home game as Southeast Missouri State University's women's basketball coach Monday night.

"I know it sounds like a cliché, something made up, but to me the most important thing was that this basketball team keeps the momentum going," Arnzen said. "Maybe in two weeks, I might look back and think about it differently, but not right now."

The Otahkians certainly kept their momentum going as they posted their third straight victory, routing Eastern Illinois 79-51 in front of 1,045 fans at the Show Me Center.

Southeast (15-11, 7-8) assured itself of being the No. 5 seed for next week's Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. The Otahkians, who close out the regular season Saturday at Austin Peay, will travel to either Austin Peay or Morehead State next Tuesday for a first-round tourney contest.

Arnzen, who is retiring at the end of this season after 19 years in charge of the Otahkians, was impressed with his team's play Monday night and he was also glad his three seniors got to close out their home careers with a victory.

"This had to be one of our better games," Arnzen said. "We were very aggressive defensively and we shot the ball well. I didn't expect a game like this. I expected it to be very tough."

The Otahkians' two senior starters, center Pam Iversen and guard Veronica Benson, scored 16 and 14 points, respectively.

"It was one of our better games," Benson said. "We came out and got 'em from the beginning and never let up."

Said Iversen, "We came out strong, which is what we needed to do from the start."

Southeast's final senior, reserve center Cindy Bates, said the Otahkians were happy to make their coach's final home game a victory. But they were just as pleased to win for themselves.

"We wanted to do it for coach, but we did it for the team," Bates said. "That's our motto, do it for the team."

Added a laughing Arnzen, "I told them we have three seniors and a senior citizen here. I'm sure those three seniors are glad their final home game turned out like this."

Junior forward Lori Chase scored 14 points. Also in double figures were freshman forward Andrea Koeper (11) and sophomore center Tisa Thomas (10), who both did their damage off the bench.

Koeper, from Jackson High School, recorded a career-high point total as she hit all four of her field-goal attempts. Thomas was 5-for-6 from the floor.

The Otahkians, demonstrating sharp passing all night, had 25 assists to just 11 turnovers. Chase, junior forward Tiffany Melis and junior guard LaShelle Porter all dished out five assists.

Southeast hit 34 of 64 shots for 53.1 percent while limiting EIU to 41.7-percent shooting (20 of 48) and forcing 28 turnovers.

The Otahkians, who trailed just once at 8-6, steadily pulled away over the final 10 minutes of the first half as they led 44-24 at the intermission. Southeast's advantage never dipped under 20 points in the final half and the Otahkians led by as many as 32 points in the late going.

EIU (6-19, 5-9) got 13 points from Pam O'Connor and 12 from Lauren Dailey.

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