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Otahkians heat up late in win
Southeast Missouri State University's offense was as cold as the weather the first 10 minutes of the opening half, but thanks to pressure defense and a strong second half, the Otahkians cruised to a 71-50 victory at the Show Me Center Thursday night.
Eight minutes into the game the Otahkians found themselves down 15-6, with two of their three baskets coming off lay-ups. While Southeast's offense lay in hibernation in front of the 437 Otahkian faithful who braved the cold, the defense hounded Lipscomb, forcing one bad pass after another.
Otahkians coach B.J. Smith said the defense, which forced 34 turnovers in all, performed much more consistently against Lipscomb.
"Even when we weren't shooting the ball well we guarded," he said. "Our pressure was much better."
While the defense played strong, the offense continued to struggle throughout the half. With 7:57 left in the half Southeast still found itself trailing 19-16.
The offense finally came to life. Yashika Sidbury made a bucket off a strong drive to the hoop, and followed that up with a long 3-pointer to tie the game at 21. It marked the first time Southeast had pulled even since the score was tied 2-2.
Smith said the offense was not working for the open shots early on, something they did a better job of in the second half.
"We're a better shooting team than we've showed," he said.
Southeast took its first lead with just over five minutes left in the half and took a 30-27 advantage into halftime.
Southeast got its offense going in the second half, but it was the defense that once again shined. Thanks to a 17-3 run to start the second half, Southeast shot out to a 49-32 lead and never looked back.
Sidbury said they simply came out in the second half more focused.
"We played with more intensity," she said. "We were playing better defense and just played together."
Leading the way defensively for Southeast were Lashelle Porter and Sarah Castile. Porter shut down Lipscomb leading-scorer Renee Logan, holding her to seven points. Logan came into the game averaging nearly 16 points per game.
Point guard Sarah Costello finished the game with eight steals, which helped Southeast put up 15 points off Lady Bison turnovers in the second half alone. Along with her eight steals, Costello also did a good job finding her teammates on the break, dishing out 11 assists.
Smith said he was impressed with the work of his point guards, who are finally getting healthy.
"We finally had them healthy for eight or nine days in a row," he said.
Southeast pushed its lead to a game-high 23 on a Tiffany Ryan 3-pointer with 10:58 left. Lipscomb made a small run to cut the lead to 14, but never got closer.
Carina Souza and Sidbury led the Otahkians in scoring with 14 points apiece. Costello added 13 points and Kenja White had eight. Sidbury was also 2-for-2 from the free throw line, extending her streak of made free throws to 17 straight.
White said as long as the defense continues to play strong, Southeast should continue to have success.
"We believe defense wins games," she said. "Our offense will come as long as we play defense."
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