Otahkians Claim Highest-Ever OVC Finish
Nashville, Tenn. (March 1, 2003) - After a shaky first half that saw Southeast Missouri try to defend a run and shoot offense from Tennessee State, The Otahkians settled down and played solid defense in the second half, to defeat the Lady Tigers of Tennessee State and claim second place in the OVC regular season for the first time in team history.
Tennessee State started the game on fire as they opened up a 9-0 lead on the Otahks. Southeast, however, scored the game's next 11 points to claim a two-point advantage at the 12-minute mark. Both teams would trade the lead in the first half with neither taking a solid advantage, but Southeast holding a slim three-point advantage at the half. The game was tied eight times, and had nine lead changes in the half.
The Otahks had 16 points from junior guard Kenja White in the half. She hit on 5-7 shots in the first frame and was 2-3 from long range. Southeast as a team hit 50 percents of their shots.
The second half was all Southeast. The Otahks quickly jumped out to a 10 point lead two minutes into the half. The lead grew to as much as 15 at one point as they were up 61-46 with 12 minutes left. Southeast increased the lead twice to 16 points once at 76-60, and again at 78-62. They would eventually win by nine points as the Lady Tigers could not muster any kind of offense in the second half.
Southeast was led in the game by White's 21-point performance. She hit on 6-11 from the field and 2-6 from long range while draining 7-11 from the free-throw line. Senior forward Lori Chase had 16 points and eight rebounds on 4-7 shooting as she made 7-8 free-throws. Junior forward Carina Souza had 10 points on the night.
The Otahks shot 50 percent from the field on the night and 47 percent from behind the arc. After making 19-20 freebies last game, they made just 24-41 against State for a 59 percent mark.
Southeast will now gear up for the first round of the OVC Tournament. They will try to win a Tournament game for the first time since the 1998-99 season when they defeated Murray State in the first round of the tournament. They will be playing host to a game for the first time since 2000-01 when they lost to Tennessee Martin in the first round.
The Otahks will be facing off against the Lady Panthers of Eastern Illinois at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the Show Me Center. EIU garnered the 7th seed in this year's tournament. Austin Peay is the No. 1 seed and will face off against No. 8 Murray State. Eastern Kentucky is No. 3 and will take on No. 6 Tennessee Tech at home while Tennessee-Martin wins the No. 4 seed and will do battle with No. 5 Morehead State in Martin.
Winners of those games will advance to the semi-finals in Nashville to be held at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.