Tenn. Tech completes sweeps, ends season for Southeast

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech proved during the regular season that it was by far the Ohio Valley Conference's dominant basketball team.

The Eagles were not overly dominating Tuesday night, but they still had more than enough to end Southeast Missouri State University's struggling year 73-56 in the opening round of the OVC Tournament.

The top-seeded Eagles (23-5), by winning their 28th consecutive game at the Eblen Center, advance to Friday's tournament semifinals in Louisville, Ky.

"It was not a great performance by us," Tech coach Jeff Lebo said. "It was kind of an ugly game."

The Indians (6-22), the bottom seed for the eight-team tournament, broke the school record for most losses in a season.

"It's been a very frustrating season, a very disappointing season from the record standpoint," Southeast coach Gary Garner said.

Garner said the Indians played relatively well Tuesday, just not nearly good enough.

"We played well, not great," Garner said. "We missed some shots that might have held us in the game."

So deep in quality personnel are the Eagles that their leading scorer, Damien Kinloch, had just five points, nearly 12 below his average. And their third-leading scorer, Brent Jolly, had only two points, almost nine under his average.

But the Eagles hardly missed a beat. Cameron Crisp, Tech's second-leading scorer, had 18 points, nearly seven above his average.

Particularly troublesome to Southeast was Joey Westmoreland, who bettered his average by nearly nine points as he scored 16. And Greg Morgan almost doubled his average with 14 points.

"We grinded one out," Westmoreland said. "Sometimes you have to win ugly."

Said Garner, "Their depth is the big thing. Their talent level from first to 10 is so much better than anybody else's in the league."

Southeast was led by a pair of freshman guards. Brett Hale hit five of seven 3-pointers and scored 15 points while Derek Winans added 14.

A problem for Southeast through much of the season appeared again Tuesday when the Indians were outrebounded 47-22. Jason Harrell pulled down 12 rebounds off the bench and DeAntoine Beasley grabbed 10 boards.

"They really killed us on the boards," Garner said.

Hale and Tim Scheer were about all the offense the Indians could muster in the first half, combining for 19 points as Southeast fell behind 33-24 at the intermission.

Hale was particularly effective, hitting all four of his 3-point attempts over the opening 20 minutes and scoring 12 points. His three early 3-pointers helped the Indians to several leads at the outset.

But Tech, trailing 11-9, took control with a 13-0 run as Southeast went scoreless for nearly six minutes. That spurt put the Eagles up 22-11 and the Indians were unable to get closer than six points the remainder of the half.

Southeast started the second half with a 6-0 run, pulling to within 33-30. But Tech answered by scoring the next eight points to make it 41-30 and the Eagles pretty much coasted the rest of the way, never letting their lead dip under eight points. Their biggest advantage was 18 points.

mmishow@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 132

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