And the beat goes on for Southeast women's basketball
For the first time in Rekha Patterson’s tenure, the coach of the Redhawks women can see a potential Ohio Valley Conference championship in her sights.
Southeast (17-5, 9-2 OVC) got its eighth straight win in romping over Jacksonville State (10-12, 6-5) Thursday, 79-52.
For the first time this season, Patterson admitted after the game her team might win the league.
“We do have a shot, yes,” said the fifth-year coach. “But it won’t matter if we don’t take care of Saturday,” a reference to the coming tilt with Tennessee Tech at the Show Me Center.
Tech lost to U-T Martin, 71-62, and the Skyhawks now lead the league with a 10-1 mark.
Harshberger productive in limited action
Senior Jessie Harshberger, who did not see much playing time in Southeast’s last two road games, had 11 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of play against the Gamecocks.
“An OVC championship,” Harshberger said, “is (now) a very realistic goal.”
Redshirt senior Carrie Shephard echoed her teammate’s confidence with a succinct rejoinder.
“She ain’t lying,” said a smiling Shephard, who led Southeast with 23 points, including four from beyond the arc.
Shephard nearing a new record
Shephard has racked up 70 treys on the season. The guard from South Pemiscot High in Steele, Mo., set Southeast’s single-season record for three-pointers last year with 73. With seven games left in the regular season, barring injury, the 24-year old is likely to soar past that figure.
“Carrie also had four steals tonight,” said Patterson, “and she leads the (OVC) in steals in conference play.”
An unexpected blowout victory
The easy 27-point Southeast win over the Gamecocks may have been a surprise to some given Jacksonville State’s humbling of three-time OVC champ Belmont, 60-41, on Saturday.
“We were tougher and scrappier tonight,” said Patterson, whose overall mark at Southeast improves to 72-70.
“We got stops especially in the first half, but our defense and rebounding won this game,” said Patterson.
After a contested first quarter that saw Southeast up 16-14 after eight minutes, the Redhawks pulled away in the final three frames.
“(Early on), we put (Jacksonville State) at the free throw line too often,” Patterson opined, a reference to 27 trips the Gamecocks made to the charity stripe, converting on 20.
“We’re a veteran team who knows what it’s like to lose,” said Patterson, praising Shephard for her work ethic and Harshberger for playing through games in which she has not always felt well.
“(Jessie) is everything you want a four-year player in this program to be,” said Patterson. “She has such energy and we (depend) on her rebounding and defending ability."
“It’s coming down to who wants (the OVC championship) more,” said Shephard.
Tesia Thompson was also in double figures for the winners with 22, including a 3-pointer. She continued her season-long excellence from the free-throw line, going 5-for-6.
Patterson not getting ahead of her skis
Patterson continued to exude caution as she looks toward the weekend.
“We have to stay in the moment,” Patterson said. “We have to do whatever it takes to be 1-0 every single game.”
Tennessee Tech (16-6, 9-2), Saturday’s opponent, is now in third place in the league.
Southeast, which was picked in preseason to finish sixth in the OVC, is currently in second place, one game behind UT-Martin (14-8, 10-1).
Jacksonville State 14 13 18 7 – 52
Southeast 16 21 23 19 – 70
JACKSONVILLE STATE (52) – Taylor Hawks 10, Destiny Elliot 10, Kiana Johnson 9, McKenna Lawrence 6, Yamia Johnson 5, Nekiyah Thompson 5, Jessie Day 5, Chloe Long 2. FG 14, FT 20-27, F 19. (3-pointers: Elliot 2, Lawrence, K. Johnson. Fouled out: none.)
SOUTHEAST (79) – Carrie Shephard 23, Tesia Thompson 22, Jessie Harshberger 11, Taelour Pruitt 5, Sophie Bussard 5, Denisha Gardener 4, Jocelyn Taylor 3, LaTrese Saine 2, Celeste Akoro 2, Roshala Scott 2. FG 31, FT 10-13, F 21. (3-pointers: Shephard 4, Pruitt, Harshberger, Thompson. Fouled out: none.)
Attendance – 487.