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4 March 2008

JSU Women Need Their Best Game Yet

By Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Becky Geyer is looking for her Jacksonville State women's basketball team to play the game of its life tonight at Southeast Missouri in the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference women's basketball tournament.

She knows if they do, the Gamecocks can make history.

No eighth-seed has ever won an OVC women's tournament game. Since the Gamecocks joined the league in 2003, the home team in the first round has gone 13-3, and since 1997, when the tournament field was expanded to eight teams, the top four seeds have gone 35-9 in the first round.

"It is a huge task," Geyer said, "but whether you come in as the seventh- or eighth-seed, you've got to beat one of the best teams in the league. It's just a fact, so you have to have the game of your life. We have to have the game of our life. If we do, I think we can compete in the game.

" For us, it's a brand new season starting today. We're here to do our best, and if our best is a win, good for us, if not, it's experience. We are young, yet if we play our very best it's gonna be a great game."

That youthful enthusiasm might be the biggest thing the Gamecocks (11-18, 8-12 OVC) have going for them.

The Redhawks (22-7, 17-3) have won their past six OVC women's tournament games since losing to Eastern Kentucky in double overtime in the 2005 title game. They won 18 of their last 20 this year and are coming off an 85-42 thrashing of the Gamecocks in Cape Girardeau, Mo., three days ago, the most lopsided loss in Geyer's two seasons at the helm.

SEMO shot 51 percent from the floor in the game, 48 percent from 3-point range, grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and held the Gamecocks to 17 points in the second half.

"One thing we do know is we can play better than we did on Saturday night," Geyer said. "We didn't play very well at all; defensively, we were absolutely terrible But that's the beauty of a young team. If you get us at our very best, I think we're capable of beating anybody in the league.

"They played a very good game; we expect them to play a big-time game (tonight) as well. Our goal is to be in the game and have an opportunity to win it at the end, and we're going to do everything we can to have that happen."

In spite all that his team has accomplished, SEMO coach John Ishee said you might as well throw it all out the window at this point. That's why he's not taking Saturday night's blowout for granted.

"I'm proud of the fact we won the regular season but that doesn't have anything to do with anything that's going to happen (tonight)," said Ishee, who opened his portion of the preseason OVC media gathering by ripping off his sweats to reveal a bull's eye-embossed T-shirt. "Now, it's win and advance or lose and you put your uniforms in mothballs.

"Certainly, after what happened to us Thursday (in a 73-50 loss to Samford), if we have that type of attitude (overlooking) the game (tonight), we don't deserve to advance Jacksonville State, if they play their best, can beat anybody in this conference. All bets are off starting (tonight) at 7 o'clock."

The winner draws either Eastern Illinois or Tennessee State in Friday afternoon's semifinals in Nashville, Tenn.

Today: JSU at SE Missouri
7 p.m., 91.9 FM, 97.9 FM

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Anniston Star.

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