Road trip presents Otahks early OVC test

Saturday, January 11, 2003

MOREHEAD, Ky. -- After opening with Ohio Valley Conference schedule with an easy home victory over Eastern Illinois, the path is likely to get tougher in a hurry for Southeast Missouri State University's women.

The Otahkians (7-4, 1-0 OVC) will play a pair of strong Kentucky teams on the road in the next three days, facing Morehead State (9-4, 2-0) at 4:30 p.m. today and Eastern Kentucky (10-4, 2-0) on Monday.

Eastern Kentucky is the defending OVC co-champion while Morehead State finished third last year. They tied for second in this year's conference preseason poll.

"It's probably as big a trip as we'll have," Southeast coach B.J. Smith said. "If we're going to do well in the conference, it's going to be important to beat some of the better teams on the road.

"Our goal is to win all the games we're supposed to win and then beat some of the teams that maybe we're not supposed to beat. Both of those teams are picked ahead of us and they're obviously both playing well."

Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky have each posted victories at OVC power Tennessee Tech, which has won or shared five straight conference titles but is in a rebuilding mode after losing all five starters from last year.

Morehead State was one of the OVC's surprise teams last year and the Eagles have given every indication that they will contend for the title this season.

The Eagles feature three double-figure scorers, led by junior forward Kandi Brown (15.6 ppg).

Brown leads the OVC in 3-point shooting, having hit 33 of 64 for 51.6 percent, while Gales tops the conference in rebounding and blocked shots, with 9.0 and 2.3 per game, respectively.

Eastern Kentucky has four double-figure scorers, led by junior guard Katie Kelly (15.9 ppg).

Eastern Kentucky, which has posted six straight wins, is the OVC's highest scoring team at 81.4 points per game, followed by Southeast (77.7 ppg) and Morehead State (76.9 ppg).

"Both teams are athletic, like to press, like an up-tempo game. They'll be similar to us," Smith said. "The next two games, there's no telling what the point total will be."

The Otahkians feature a balanced offensive attack led by junior guard Kenja White (14.1 ppg), senior forward Lori Chase (13.7 ppg), junior forward Carina Souza (12.3 ppg) and junior guard Yashika Sidbury (10.5 ppg).

"We're getting better, but we still have a long way to go," said White, the OVC Newcomer of the Week after she scored 23 points against Eastern Illinois.

Southeast, fifth in the OVC preseason poll, is still not at full strength. Point guard Sarah Costello, second in the league in assists and steals, missed last Saturday's conference-opening 74-59 win over Eastern Illinois with a foot injury and is doubtful for today.

mmishow@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 132

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