EUGENE — Northwest Christian kept the pressure on but Southern Oregon didn't wilt in a top-15 matchup Friday night at the Morse Events Center, winning 66-54 to break a second-place tie in the Cascade Conference women's basketball standings.
In their eighth consecutive victory, the No. 10 Raiders (15-1, 7-1 CCC) led the No. 15 Beacons (13-2, 6-2) for the final 34 minutes behind Remi Mejia's 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Their 11-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter was down to four with three minutes to go, but they kept NCU scoreless the rest of the way.
The Beacons, who hold their highest-ever position in the NAIA Division II coaches' poll, became the first nationally-ranked opponent SOU has defeated in a CCC regular-season road game since the 2008-09 season.
Their season-low point total this season was the result of SOU advantages of 22-9 in turnovers forced and 18-10 on the offensive glass. They shot at a slightly higher clip from the field — 38 percent to SOU's 31 — but finished with 35 fewer field-goal attempts.
Raider forward Ariel Augustine totaled 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Point guard Toria Bradford had 13 points, four assists and two steals.
Down 8-7 midway through the first quarter, the Raiders went on an 11-3 run keyed by 3-pointers by Mejia and Kenadee Honaker that put them ahead for good. Mejia hit a couple more 3s in the second quarter — she went 4-of-10 downtown for the game, her 11th straight with three or more makes from downtown — and the Raiders went into halftime with a 42-36 lead.
They shot just 8-of-31 in the second half but limited the Beacons to 6-of-23 accuracy.
NCU stayed in the game behind a pair of freshman forward, Anamaria Virjoghe (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Morgan McKinney (16 points, 9 rebounds).
The Raiders have now won seven straight matchups between the teams. They'll travel to Salem today, facing Corban at 5:30 p.m.
NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN 97, No. 23 SOUTHERN OREGON 91: At Eugene, Michael Loomis had 29 points and 16 rebounds and took over late to lead Northwest Christian.
Sloppy play against NCU's full-court pressure and another cold shooting night downtown left the Raiders (10-7, 5-3 Cascade Conference) vulnerable to the upset. They turned the ball over nine times in the first half, letting what had been an 11-point lead slip to three by the break, and shot 4-of-20 from 3 while watching the Beacons slowly heat up.
SOU scored 10 unanswered points, a spurt topped off by Tate Hoffman's 3-pointer, to go up 58-48 with 15 minutes left. NCU's Tyrus Hosley sparked the comeback charge: His four-point play tied the game at the 11-minute mark, and his fourth and final 3-pointer off the bench put the Beacons ahead for good at the seven-minute mark.
Loomis, a senior forward who shot 10-of-25 from the field, helped seal the win with nine points in the final five minutes. With the Beacons up 92-91 and 23 seconds to go, Davonte Cleveland hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead and Tristen Holmes missed a pair on the other end.
The loss spoiled sophomore forward Jordan Hunt's season-high 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds. He scored 19 of those in the second half.
Ben DeSaulnier tallied 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Hoffman went 8-of-12 for 17 points and seven boards, and Kenny Meyer chipped in 13 points and eight assists.
The Raiders shot 51 percent from the field (38-of-75) but, along with their struggles from outside, went just 11-of-16 at the free-throw line. The Beacons finished at 43 percent overall (31-of-73) and 27-of-31 at the line.
SOU will attempt to bounce back today at Corban. Tipoff in Salem is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.