POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — In a battle of two teams adjusting to the big stage of the national tournament, No. 18 Southern Oregon showed No. 14 Madonna how to handle the pressure.
Forward Eric Thompson hit five 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 30 points, Kyle Tedder added five 3s of his own and the Raiders scorched one of the top defensive teams in the nation en route to a 83-66 victory in the first round of the NAIA Division II men's basketball tournament Wednesday at Keeter Gymnasium.
The win, SOU's ninth in its last 10 games, advances the Raiders (25-8) to the second round of the 32-team tournament, where they will play the host team, College of the Ozarks, at 5:30 p.m. Friday for a berth in the quarterfinals. College of the Ozarks pulled a stunning upset of third-ranked Northwood, 57-49, on Wednesday night.
"It's going to be a full house," SOU head coach Brian McDermott said. "They've got some real nice athletes, they play harder than hell and they run their stuff. It should be a great game."
Behind Thompson's 19 first-half points SOU staked a 13-point halftime cushion, 51-38, then only added to it in the second half.
The Crusaders (24-9), playing in their first-ever national tournament game, managed to hang with the Raiders for a while, with Travis Schuba's 3-pointer cutting SOU's lead to 10 points, 57-47, with 17:30 to go. But Southern Oregon responded with an eight-point spurt capped by a Thompson fadeaway to extend its cushion to 18. The Raiders' lead never dipped below 15 points again.
Thompson was efficient in hitting the 30-point mark for the second time this season. The 6-foot-7 junior forward drained 11 of 17 field goals, including 5 of 6 from long range, while also adding nine rebounds. He hit 4 of 5 3-pointers in the first half, including one that pushed SOU's lead to 11 points with 1:29 to go.
"We kind of thought they had matchup problems going in, but when you haven't seen somebody live you never know for sure," McDermott said. "That was one of the matchup problems. We felt like whoever guarded (Thompson) wasn't going to be used to guarding guys that far outside. "…They just couldn't get out on him."
Even on one of Thompson's rare misses, things worked out well for the Raiders during one key, telling sequence at the end of the first half. After a shot clock violation gave the ball back to Madonna with four seconds left, the Crusaders immediately turned the ball over on an errant inbounds pass. That gave the Raiders one last chance, and they cashed in when Thompson's air ball was corralled by David Sturner under the basket and turned into an easy reverse layup.
Sturner added 10 points and eight rebounds to give the Raiders three players in double figures. Tedder scored 20 points while hitting 5 of 11 treys, and Tim Weber had six points and four assists.
Point guard Bobby Naubert had 17 points and seven assists and Schuba 17 points and two steals to lead the Crusaders, who had a nine-game winning streak snapped.
The Raiders shot 47 percent (30-for-64) against a Madonna team that came in ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage defense. They also outrebounded Madonna 36-32 and finished with 17 assists, as the SOU offense methodically picked apart the Crusaders from start to finish.
Thanks mostly to the super-quick Naubert, Madonna played well enough on offense to keep the game competitive through one half. But after shooting 56 percent in the first half the Crusaders cooled off considerably in the second half, when they hit just 12 of 31 shots (.387).
"We weren't really happy with (our defense) in the first half, we felt like we were giving (Naubert) a pass," McDermott said. "Our guys did a better job in the second half. It was just a matter of being more aggressive, and our second level defenders had to step up a little bit higher. We were letting (Naubert) get too deep.
"We played pretty good defensively in the second half and we felt like we were making them take tough shots and they weren't going to continue to make them. The fact of the matter is, they only had three scorers and that's not enough."