KLAMATH FALLS — Big men David Sturner and Eric Thompson wouldn't let the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team lose Saturday night at Oregon Tech.
And with their latest win, this one a 69-67 anxiety inducer in front of 1,732 at Danny Miles Court, the 15th-ranked Raiders (22-6 overall, 11-5 Cascade Conference) have gotten the Owls (15-13, 8-8) in six straight games for the first time in series history.
SOU's win probability dived to a low point when a Derek Evans floater had the Owls up 67-63 with 2:33 remaining. Sturner came back on SOU's ensuing possession and nailed a 3-pointer from the wing with the shot clock dwindling, and, after a defensive stop, Thompson bumped his way toward the basket and turned around for a bucket-and-one with 1:56 left, giving the Raiders a lead and providing the final score.
Thompson scored 24 points, Sturner scored 18 and both collected 11 rebounds. Sturner also blocked four shots for the third time this season as the pair bullied OIT in the paint. The Owls were limited to five offensive rebounds, were outscored 38-26 inside and had two second-chance points to SOU's 16.
They still had a chance to win, too, but Austen Flint's desperation shot from nearly midcourt was sent away by the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
Point guard Brandon Bautista finished with 20 points and five assists to lead the Owls, and Kyle Waits went for 19 points and six boards. Both made 7 of 12 shots and two 3-pointers, helping the Owls go 8-for-23 from outside as a team.
They threatened to run away with the game early, leading 23-11 eight minutes in, but SOU answered with 18 straight points, 10 of which came from Sturner. The Raiders claimed the halftime lead, 37-36, before it was exchanged 10 times in the second.
SOU forward Jordan West, who had 10 points off the bench, scored five unanswered points to tie the game, 50-all, with 12:08 left. His 3-pointer with 10 minutes left gave the Raiders a 55-54 edge.
Jeff Bush had eight points, six rebounds and four assists without a turnover for the Raiders. The teams' combined total of nine turnovers was the lowest in the CCC this season, and the Raiders' total of five gave them seven or fewer in four of their last six games.
SOUTHERN OREGON 37, PACIFIC 3 — At Ashland, four seniors who got their chance in Southern Oregon's final dual did more than provide energy Saturday at Bob Riehm Arena.
Three of them, none of whom are regulars in the lineup, came through with wins to spark the seventh-ranked Raiders' 37-3 trouncing of Pacific University. The Raiders completed the regular season with an 8-3 record and can look forward to next Saturday's NAIA Western Region Qualifier in Atherton, Calif.
Woong Kim (141 pounds) picked up his first dual win of the season, Craig Trask (157) registered a first-round fall and Tucker Van Matre (184) upset Caleb Malychewski, who started the night with a 25-4 record. SOU claimed the first nine classes of the night, and the fourth senior, heavyweight Michael Calderon, tied up the last with a last-second takedown but lost on riding time.
Redshirt-freshman Ian Rogers was a late addition to the lineup and got SOU started with a 9-4 decision over Lucas Beltz at 125 pounds. Trevor Hancock (133) followed with a first-round pin and upset of Eric Harder, dropping his record to 25-7.
Kim was next with a 9-7 defeat of Jeremiah Baker, ninth-ranked Tyler Cowger (149) scored bonus points with a major decision to deny Ryan Baxter his 20th win of the season, and Trask finished off Carson French in 51 seconds. Garrett Urrutia had a takedown and an escape in the last 80 seconds to win the 165-pound match, 3-2 against Bruce Balcita, and top-ranked Brock Gutches upped his record to 26-3 by pinning Michael Tyner 2:24 into their 174-pound matchup.
Van Matre's 12-6 decision, which included a near fall at the tail end, and second-ranked Taylor Johnson's 7-0 shutout of Chris Harlin at 197 pounds gave the Raiders their final points of the night.
OREGON TECH 87, SOUTHERN OREGON 54 — At Klamath Falls, Southern Oregon was hit hard at the end of the first half and knocked out in the second against 24th-ranked Oregon Tech at Danny Miles Court.
The Raiders (21-7 overall, 10-6 Cascade Conference) were knocked out of a second-place tie in the conference standings and landed in a tie for fourth with games at Warner Pacific and Concordia remaining.
The Owls (23-5, 11-5) remained in the No. 2 spot by taking over the game with a 26-8 run leading up to halftime, topped off by Ashleigh Vandenbrink's buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The game had been tied, 18-all, before that stretch.
Vandenbrink had 17 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Owls, hitting four 3-pointers to help them go 10-for-19 as a team. Reserve Karly LeVeque hit both of her 3s to add 16 points, helping the OIT bench outscore SOU's, 54-25.
The Raiders, who made half as many field goals as the Owls in going 15-for-59, were led by Allison Gida's 11 points and seven rebounds.
Six other Raiders scored six points apiece: Kristen Schoenherr, Ashley Claussen, Carly Meister, Tiani Bradford, Brenna Anderson and Kristin Smeaton. Bradford collected a game-high nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
After a strong start, the Raiders were never able to get back into the game late. A Vandenbrink 3 put OIT up by 20-plus for good at 54-32 with 13:54 left.
Maria Ramirez had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Owls, and Karissa Dixon compiled 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. They've won six of seven against SOU on their home floor.
If the Raiders are to remained tied for fourth place with Northwest (Wash.), they'll have the tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep and will get to host in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.
Track and Field
HUSKY CLASSIC — At Seattle, three individuals and the women's 4x400-meter relay team clocked times worthy of automatic trips to the NAIA national indoor track and field championships for Southern Oregon.
Jonz Olander qualified in the 400-meter dash, hitting the 'A' standard with a time of 48.46 seconds during Day 2 of the meet at Dempsey Indoor. He hit the 'B' two weeks ago at the Washington Invitational but got under the mark of 49.0 he needed this time.
Eric Avila and Kevin Jorgensen, who on Friday won the distance medley relay with Zach Boyd-Helm and Olander - finished under the 4:18.8 they needed for automatic berths in the mile. Avila ran a time of 4:07.32, placing 18th of 28 entrants in the invite-only race, and Jorgensen got 4:16.50 in the open.
The relay team, which, aside from junior returnee Amelia Maguin, is made up exclusively of freshmen, came in at 3:58.40 to get the auto with two seconds to spare. Tierra Barrett, Aspen Abbott and Rachele Bedsole will join Maguin at nationals on March 6-8 in Geneva, Ohio.
Maguin also raced the 400, for which she already stamped an automatic qualifying mark two weeks ago. Her time of 57.83 was two hundredths of a second behind the original.