Southeast women try Thursday for their 6th straight win

Southeast Missouri State coach Rekha Patterson cheers during a Nov. 24, 2017 game at the Show Me Center.
Southeast Missourian

Even in the midst of a five-game winning streak, including two straight road victories, Southeast coach Rekha Patterson doesn’t believe in getting out too far ahead of her skis.

Southeast (14-5, 6-2 Ohio Valley Conference) plays today at Morehead State (8-12, 4-4) and to talk to the fifth-year coach, you’d think her Redhawks were the underdog.

High praise for the Kentuckians

“(Morehead State) is talented, has scorers, can defend, can block shots and the players are so long and athletic,” said Patterson. “It's a scrappy bunch who played Belmont very close.”

Indeed, the Eagles dropped a Jan. 18 contest, 71-62, to Belmont, the reigning OVC champion. The Redhawks managed only 45 points in a Jan. 9 home loss to the Bruins, 57-45.

Uneven performances

Patterson is concerned about the up-and-down play of her Redhawks, who nonetheless currently lead the OVC in several categories – including scoring offense (74.2 ppg), scoring margin (+11.2), total rebounds (842), rebounds per game (44.3), rebound margin (8.9) and offensive rebounds per game (16.6).

The league’s top scoring and rebounding team would seem to be a special one.

Just a minute, hold on there, says Patterson.

“This team has a chance to be special, yes,” said Patterson, “but I’m concerned about our rollercoaster (style) of play lately.”

The pattern has been for the Redhawks to start fast and build up a big lead in the first quarter, only to take their foot off the gas in the second period and limp into halftime.

Southeast put up 22 points in first 10 minutes Saturday versus Eastern Illinois but only managed eight in the next 10. Against Murray State on January 18, the Redhawks put up just 11 points in the second frame.

Despite the impressive winning streak, the Redhawks have lost the second quarter twice in the last three games and in nine contests overall.

“We may have to look at our rotations between quarters,” advised Patterson, who – with one more victory – will match her highest win total (15) since coming to Southeast and will even her overall record at 70-70.

“We have to remind our players that going into the second quarter, (they should think) the score is 0-0,” continued Patterson.

The metrics are impressive

It is becoming harder to find fault with this latest incarnation of the Redhawks, who are fourth in the 12-team OVC and off to the best start in conference play since a 5-1 mark in Patterson’s first season (2015-16).

“We say this over and over,” Patterson said. “We must play extremely hard, extremely tough and together.”

“Teams that do this,” she added, “finish in the top half of the conference.”

Tesia and Carrie

Individually, junior Tesia Thompson and senior Carrie Shephard are the fourth and fifth highest scorers respectively in the OVC. Shephard, the most diminutive Redhawk and the eldest, has 60 3-pointers, highest in the league. The Steele, Mo., native ranks 12th in the nation in treys.

MSU has had Southeast's number

In the last meeting of the teams, Jan. 17, 2019 in Morehead, Kentucky, the Redhawks were soundly beaten by the Eagles, 82-54. It may be a cautionary tale to note that the Redhawks have lost 14 of their last 15 games against Morehead. SEMO leads the all-time series, 23-21.

No taking for granted

Because of Morehead State’s losing record, it may be tempting for Southeast to look past the Eagles.

“We can’t look too far ahead,” said Patterson. “You do that, you miss what’s right in front of you and you often lose.”

Southeast wraps up its four-game road trip Saturday at Eastern Kentucky.

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