LA GRANDE — After losing the previous two matchups by a combined 54 points, the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team had to try something different in Wednesday's opening round of the Cascade Conference Tournament.

LA GRANDE — After losing the previous two matchups by a combined 54 points, the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team had to try something different in Wednesday's opening round of the Cascade Conference Tournament.

And it almost worked.

The Raiders took the air out of the ball and slowed the game down, but didn't have enough at the end as 11th-ranked and second-seeded Eastern Oregon held on for a 53-43 victory.

Eastern Oregon improved to 24-5 and advances to Saturday's conference semifinals. Southern Oregon's season ends at 14-16.

JC Cook led the Mountaineers with 12 points and Jason Mumm finished with 10 points.

Freshman Kyle Tedder had 14 points for the Raiders and Jordan Highland had 13 points.

Eastern entered the game ranked sixth in the nation in scoring at almost 85 points per game.

The Raiders elected to run the shot clock down on every possession.

The strategy worked and, after Eastern jumped out to a 13-4 lead, the Raiders would make a game of it.

SOU's Dex Daum and Tedder each nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Eastern lead to 15-13 with 9:17 to play in the first half.

Eastern's lead would not get bigger than four for the rest of the half and a three-point play by Daum trimmed the SOU deficit to 22-21 at the break.

In the second half, a layup by Highland gave SOU a 25-24 advantage — its first lead since 2-0 to start the game.

Eastern scored four straight points to regain the lead, but a basket by Scott Tiefenthaler helped swing the advantage back into the Raiders' corner, 31-30.

The Mountaineers finally got the breathing room they needed with a 7-2 run midway through the half and when SOU had to foul to keep it close late, the Mountaineers iced it with free throws.