January 1, 2009

Rivalry with Southeast Missouri has grown strong for Tech women

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team will look for a way to beat Southeast Missouri Saturday night when the two rivals return to Ohio Valley Conference play. A year ago, Tech shot the ball extremely well in the first game and played sensational defense in the second, only to lose twice to the Redhawks.

Tipoff for Saturday's contest is at 5:30 p.m., with the men's game to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Southeast Missouri comes to Cookeville to kick off the new year with a 4-8 overall record, including an 0-2 worksheet in conference play with home losses to Austin Peay (61-50) and Tennessee State (59-55).

Following a 19-point win over Bethel, the Redhawk women have since lost four in a row with their most recent being a 60-31 defeat at Missouri on Monday night.

The Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center will reopen
Friday, Jan. 2, for regular business hours from
8 a.m to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m.
The ticket office opens Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

SEMO has played seven of its first 12 at home and also had a couple of tournament games on neutral courts, so the game at Eblen Center will be only the team's fourth true road contest. So far, SEMO has lost road tilts at Florida State, Southern Miss and Mizzou.

The leading scorer for coach John Ishee's team is Tarina Nixon, a 5-6 senior guard from Arizona who is scoring 12.4 points per game. Crystal Glenn, a 5-10 senior from San Diego, is right behind with 11.3 points per game and a team-leading 8.6 rebounds. Also in double digits is 5-7 senior guard Sonya Daugherty from St. Louis, averaging 11.1 points per game.

The trademark of this SEMO squad is defense, holding their foes to just 59.3 points per game. On the attack, the Redhawks are averaging 54.6 per contest. SEMO's accuracy has been a concern, with the team shooting just 33 percent from the field and 27 percent from long distance.

Ishee is in his third season as coach of the Redhawks, taking over as acting head coach to open the 2006-07 season and being named permanent head coach in March 2007.

The Golden Eagles are 3-9 following a heart-breaking 63-61 loss Tuesday night to Memphis. Tech is 1-0 in conference play, posting a convincing victory over Jacksonville State in early December in their only OVC action.

Balanced scoring continues to be the mark of this year's Tech squad, with two players averaging in double digits and three more just below that two-figure mark. Blair Bowens tops Tech with 13.6 points per game while Meagan Lyons is averaging 10.1 ppg. Jasmine White is scoring 9.4 points and leads Tech with 6.6 rebounds per game. Allison Price is averaging 8.6 per game and tops Tech with 35 assists. Freshman Krystal Stirrup paces the bench, averaging 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per outing.

A year ago, despite some outstanding efforts by Tech, SEMO claimed a pair of victories over the Golden Eagles, winning by six in Cape Girardeau in December and by 10 in Cookeville in February.

In the first meeting, Tech played its most efficient half of the season and had their hands all over a victory...but couldn't hold on.

SEMO surged to a 66-60 victory in the second half when Tech lost its momentum - and it's shooting touch and rebounding edge.

After shooting 54 percent in the first half including 6-for-12 from outside the arc, the Golden Eagles cooled off to 33 percent in the second half including 1-for-8 from long range. After owning a 16-12 rebounding edge in the first half, the Golden Eagles were topped 20-10 on the glass in the second period. A late 12-0 SEMO run proved to the difference.

Lyons scored all of her team-high 14 points in the second half. Cara Reed was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double figures, knocking down 10 points. Kristina Tyler had eight points, eight rebounds and three assists before fouling out.

Blunt led SEMO with 18 points, including a 7-for-8 effort at the free throw line. Tarina Nixon added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Lovelady had 11 points and Johnson scored 10.

Tech's defense was sensational in the rematch, holding the Redhawks to just 25 percent shooting.

However, the Golden Eagles couldn't take advantage, committing 28 turnovers in the contest. SEMO grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and the Redhawks used those second chances to claim a 49-39 victory in Eblen Center. Tech fought back to within three points in the final minute, 42-39, but the Redhawks made seven of eight free throws down the stretch to claim the win.

Missy Whitney led the Redhawks with 18 points, three blocked shots and seven steals, while Nixon had 11 points and three steals. Daugherty had five points, eight rebounds and four steals as SEMO had 18 steals in the contest.

Marissa Hensley hit 4-for-6 from long range and led Tech with 16 points, but she was the only Golden Eagle to manage double digits in the lowest-scoring game in Tech's series history with SEMO.