• Southern Oregon, Oregon Tech set to battle

    Two teams square off tonight in conference title tilt
  • ASHLAND — If the Southern Oregon University women's basketball team is to make its first trip to the NAIA Championships since 2009, this one will be well-earned.
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  • ASHLAND — If the Southern Oregon University women's basketball team is to make its first trip to the NAIA Championships since 2009, this one will be well-earned.
    Already one gigantic road upset into the Cascade Conference Championships, the fourth-seeded Raiders (25-7) need to pull off one more tonight at second-seeded and 21st-ranked Oregon Tech (27-5) in the title game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Danny Miles Court.
    An SOU student rooter bus will leave McNeal Pavilion at 4:30 p.m. Those interested in purchasing a $10 ticket (which includes entry to the game) can email heikenb@sou.edu. Those unable to attend can follow live stats or pay-per-view video at the SOU Athletics Portal.
    The winner earns an automatic berth in the 32-team national tournament, which will be held March 12-18 in Sioux City, Iowa. Due to their high ranking, if the Owls lose they're still likely to get an at-large bid. Despite winning eight of their last nine, the Raiders are a longshot to receive an at-large.
    HOW THEY GOT HERE: Southern Oregon knocked off 22nd-ranked Eastern Oregon, the CCC regular season champion, 80-62 in the semifinals Friday in La Grande behind monster games from Carly Meister (24 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) and Allison Gida (20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists). The Raiders never trailed and ended an eight-game losing streak against the Mountaineers.
    They relied on a different cast of stars to beat Evergreen State, 80-70, in Tuesday's quarterfinals in Ashland. Autumn Durand scored a career-high 30 points with nine rebounds, and Cambie Edwards threw in a career-high 13 points. Ashley Claussen has been steady in both games, averaging 10.5 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
    Oregon Tech held on for a 77-73 win over third-seeded College of Idaho in its semifinal. Kassi Conditt, a 6-foot-2 center, dominated with 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks after a similar line (22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks) in a 72-58 quarterfinal win against Corban. Karly LeVeque averaged 10 points and 4 assists in the wins.
    THE MATCHUP: The Owls won both meetings during the regular season, 83-71 on Jan. 18 in Ashland, and 87-54 on Feb. 15 in Klamath Falls. They only shot 40 percent in the wins (including a 20-for-40 mark from 3-point range), but held the Raiders to 32 percent and forced them to commit 43 turnovers. Allison Gida led SOU with 28 points and 12 rebounds in the first matchup and 11 points and seven rebounds in the second. LeVeque averaged 19 points, making all five of her 3-pointers.
    SOU trails the all-time series between the rivals, 29-33, and has lost three straight in Klamath Falls. The Owls won the only previous postseason meeting, an 80-55 decision in the first round of the 2007 tournament.
    TITLE HISTORY: OIT has never won the CCC tournament and SOU has won five, most recently in 2008, which was also the last time the Raiders played in the title game. No matter who wins, four different teams will have been crowned in the last four years.
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