Tough effort for Southeast Missouri State women's basketball falls short at Belmont, 89-77
Against the Ohio Valley Conference front-runner, the Southeast Missouri State women's basketball team fought and battled. But in the decisive moments, it saw recent struggles reemerge.
The Redhawks led with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter but again saw their shots miss the mark, as Belmont grabbed momentum late in the period, carried it into the fourth and walked away with an 89-77 win on Saturday at the Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Belmont is now 18-1 at home since the start of last season.
"I'm not into moral victories, but I thought our toughness this weekend was a lot better than the start of our conference games," Southeast coach Rekha Patterson said.
"In the third quarter we fouled too much ... and in the fourth quarter they got some offensive rebounds and putbacks. (But) we battled. Our challenge was toughness, and I think they responded really well."
Southeast (7-10 overall, 1-3 OVC) grabbed a lead with 4 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but the visitors failed to take advantage of a cold streak from the Belmont offense. Instead, the Redhawks went cold themselves.
The Bruins (12-5, 4-0 OVC) suffered through a 1-of-8 shooting stretch, failing to hit a field goal for more than 3 1/2 minutes. Yet when they came out of the slump, all it took was back-to-back buckets to grab back an advantage.
A Sally McCabe bucket with 2:05 left in the third gave the hosts the lead for good.
"It was a missed opportunity for us," Patterson said. "Defensively I was trying to save Olivia (Hackmann) and Deja (Jones), so we were playing a zone defense. People will say, 'What are you doing playing zone against [a team like that]?' ... We had to pick our poison with them, and I thought the zone was pretty effective.
"They're a rhythm team, so when they get in to a rhythm, they can get really hot. I thought they got into a rhythm in the fourth quarter, and I thought I could have switched it up from zone more."
The 6-foot-3 McCabe finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for Belmont, which also got 19 points from Kylee Smith and 15 points apiece from Darby Maggard and Jenny Roy, the reigning OVC Player of the Week.
"[McCabe] can catch it anywhere and score and finish," Patterson said. "I thought she did a good job of getting deep post position and then her teammates finding her. There were times with Deja at the 5 that we're really undersized. I thought they ... got the lob look to her, and I didn't think we defended it as well as we should have.
"There's a reason she was OVC Defensive Player of the Year (in 2016) and MVP of the OVC Tournament."
The Bruins, who lead the conference in scoring offense (75.2 points per game) and field goal percentage (43 percent), were 28 of 63 (44.4 percent) on the night. They were 26 of 35 from the free-throw line, including 9 of 13 in the final 10 minutes.
Southeast got 25 points on 11-of-20 shooting in 24 minutes from Hackmann, who was limited with foul trouble before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Hannah Noe added 15 points, while Bri Mitchell struggled to 2-of-12 shooting from the field but was 10 of 12 from the free-throw line for 14 points.
The Redhawks shot 27 of 68 (39.7 percent) from the floor but just 32.3 percent in the second half and 28.6 percent in the final quarter, as their OVC shooting struggles reared its head in the game's decisive moments.
Patterson shouldered part of the blame, saying that after Hackmann scored 15 points in the first half, the coach wanted to get her senior the ball as much as possible in the second half. At times that worked, and at others it didn't.
"When you play a team as talented as Belmont .. you've got to be able to execute past your first and second options," Patterson said. "You have to be a team, and you can't do individual things. I put it on me. I wanted to get the ball to [Hackmann] ... and ran some isolation things for her."
Southeast led for just 1:44 in the first half but remained close. A Lakyn Gulley 3 with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter gave the Redhawks their first lead of the game since the opening shot, 17-15, and the visitors clung to a 17-16 edge after one quarter.
Both teams cranked up the offense in the second quarter, during which Belmont was 10 of 15 (66.7 percent) from the floor and Southeast went 10 of 17 (58.8 percent).
It was the Bruins who got started the quickest, and a 7-2 start to the period vaulted the home side into the lead, which it extended to as much as seven points, 35-28, with 4:02 left in the second quarter.
Southeast responded with Hackmann, who scored 12 straight points for the visitors, capped by a layup with 57 seconds left that pulled the Redhawks within two, 40-38. Hackmann was fouled on the play and had a chance to make it even closer but missed the free throw.
On the other end of the floor, Belmont got an offensive rebound that led to a Smith 3 before Mandy Madden scored just before the buzzer for Southeast to keep it a one-possession game at halftime, with the Bruins up 43-40.
Southeast was 17 of 37 (46 percent) from the field at the break, while Belmont was 16 of 32 (50 percent).
Noe tied things at 49-all with a three-point play at 7:10 of the third quarter, and a Hackmann floater gave Southeast a lead again, 54-52, with 4:09 left in the period.
However, as Belmont suffered through shooting woes, Southeast couldn't pull away.
A McCabe layup at the 2:05 mark gave the Bruins a lead again, and they closed out the quarter with a 12-3 run that allowed them to gather momentum into the final period.
The hosts then opened the fourth quarter on a 7-2 swing, and when Maggard -- among the nation's leaders in made 3s -- hit just her second 3-pointer of the game with 6:25 to play, it vaulted Belmont into an 8-1 run that pushed the gap to double digits.
A late Southeast push saw a Mandy Madden bucket cut the gap to just six points, 82-76, with 44 seconds left in the game, but the Redhawks drew no long closer.
"Our transition defense to start wasn't great, but we made the adjustments," Patterson said. "We were able to withstand the run and stay in the game. I thought rebounding was huge against a team that's bigger than us at every position. I was proud that we took pretty good care of the basketball. And then we were tough. We were willing to take their punch and punch back, and that was much better than the first week (of conference play). If we take that with us, we can accomplish the goals we set for ourselves."
Southeast is off until 4 p.m. Saturday when it hits the road again to take on UT Martin to open up a men's/women's doubleheader.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE (77) -- Olivia Hackmann 25, Hannah Noe 15, Bri Mitchell 14, Adrianna Murphy 2, Ashton Luttrull 7, Mandy Madden 4, Jessie Harshberger 2, Lakyn Gulley 3, Iyanna McCurdy 2, Deja Jones 3. FG 27-68, FT 17-23, F 30. (3-pointers: Hackmann 2-4, Noe 2-6, Gulley 1-3, Luttrull 1-4. Fouled out: Hackmann, Jones.)
BELMONT (89) -- Lauren Thompson 8, Kylee Smith 19, Jenny Roy 15, Darby Maggard 15, Sally McCabe 19, Frankie Joubran 3, Sierra Jones 9, Paris Lawson 1. FG 28-63, FT 26-35, F 20. (3-pointers: Smith 3-7, Maggard 2-8, Roy 1-2, Jones 1-3. Fouled out: Roy.)
- Photos from the game (01/07/17)