Southeast hopes to keep the ball rolling against struggling SIUE

Taelour Pruitt (10), Carrie Shephard (2) and Tesia Thompson (24) celebrate Southeast's 71-69 win Thursday over UT-Martin at the Show Me Center.
Tyler Graef ~ tgraef@semissourian.com

In the space of two days, Southeast Missouri women’s basketball is going from the best team in the Ohio Valley Conference to the worst.

After their thrilling 71-69 victory over then-OVC leader UT-Martin Thursday, the Redhawks host league cellar dweller SIU-Edwardsville (3-21, 1-12) Saturday.

Southeast coach Rekha Patterson promises she is not looking past the woeful Cougars.

“We don’t have the attitude that we’re going to step on the floor and beat (SIUE),” said Patterson, whose Redhawks (19-5, 11-2) have won 10 in a row, are OVC co-leaders and have not lost a game in over a month – a 57-45 defeat to Belmont January 9.

The loss to the Bruins is Southeast’s only home loss this season.

“We have a veteran group here,” said Patterson, whose five-year mark at the school is now 74-70.

“Our team understands each game is important.”

It remains to be seen if Patterson’s conviction that no opponent may be taken lightly will resonate with her squad.

“They’re young, 18-to-22 years of age,” Patterson said, “and there is only so much you can control (as a coach).”

Patterson is full of compliments for the Cougars, losers of 11 straight.

“(SIUE) is athletic, super-quick, very aggressive and likes to attack,” informed Patterson.

“If (we) don’t come out strong,” the North Carolina native warned, “momentum can shift away from us.”

The Cougars, in contrast to Southeast, have a young team, with 10 of the 17 players on the roster listed as freshmen and sophomores.

Redshirt freshman Kaitlin Lee had a productive game for the visitors during the teams’ last meeting, a 66-56 Southeast win in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Lee, a 6-foot-1 forward, had a double-double in the January 23 game, scoring 18 points and coming away with 13 rebounds. Lee was also perfect from the charity stripe, going 10-10 in free throws.

Junior Allie Troeckler, who is back from a recent injury, leads SIUE with 10.9 points per game.

The Redhawks have won their last four meetings against SIUE and are 5-5 in Patterson’s tenure.

Tesia Thompson continues to lead Southeast in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per game, good for third in the OVC.

Teammate Carrie Shephard, in the UT-Martin game, set a new all-time single season Southeast record for three-pointers, landing two against the Skyhawks.

The redshirt senior from Steele, Missouri now has 74 treys, besting by one the mark set just last year.

The glow of Thursday’s win, which came down to the final seconds, has not worn off yet.

“We celebrated the win – as we do all of them – by dancing in the locker room,” said Patterson. “But this is not the end of the road.”

In fact, the Redhawks will play three of their final five regular season games away from the Show Me Center.

After SIUE, the Redhawks – now tied with the just-vanquished UT-Martin for OVC supremacy - head to Alabama to face Jacksonville State Thursday.

The last time Southeast had a winning streak this lengthy it won the league’s regular-season title.

During the 2007-08 campaign, the Redhawks won a dozen games to go 17-3 in the OVC.

The OVC tournament in Evansville, Indiana will be held March 4-7.

The top eight squads in the 12-team league are invited to play for the tourney title.

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