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Raider women down Wolves

MONMOUTH -- For most of the night, Southern Oregon University forward Michelle Westerberg had the best seat in the gym for her team's Cascade Conference Tournament title game with Western Oregon -- on the bench.

When she did play, she came up big -- scoring seven of her 14 points in a crucial 10-2 second-half Raider run. The surge boosted second-ranked Southern Oregon (27-3) past the Wolves, 78-65, and gave SOU its first tournament crown and its first win in Monmouth in 24 years.

It's a good thing she was in there, said Southern Oregon coach Shirley Huyett, whose team has won seven straight games. She only played 16 minutes due to foul trouble, but when we needed her to step in and do things, she was fresh. When the game is on the line she's going to work hard and do good things.

The victory avenges two previous losses this season to the Wolves and all but secures the Raiders the No. 2 seed at the NAIA Division II national tournament March 11-17 in Sioux City, Iowa. Western Oregon (24-10) also advances to nationals.

It was Southern Oregon's first Conference title since the 1992-93 season, the year before the tournament was instituted.

With the Raiders clinging to a 53-50 lead with five minutes to play, Westerberg took things into her own hands, nailing a short jumper, converting a layin and making 3-of-4 free throws to push the Raiders over the top.

The two previous losses to them are a little easier to take now, said Huyett. Any time you can win on the road in a conference tournament, it's exciting.

Another big key for Southern Oregon was limiting Western Oregon star forward Clair Cox to just six points on 3-of-9 shooting. Cox was a dominant force for the Wolves in their wins over the Raiders.

Nada Janackovic led Southern Oregon with 18 points, Denise Berry had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Megan Winchester added 16 points.

SOUTHERN OREGON (27-3)

Berry 4-9 8-11 16, Westerberg 5-9 4-6 14, Janackovic 5-14 8-8 18, Lamb 2-6 2-3 7, Winchester 3-7 6-7 15, Richards 0-0 0-0 0, Saltzman 0-0 0-1 0, Fisher 0-2 2-2 2, Taylor 2-6 0-2 4, Blakley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 22-54 30-40 78.

WESTERN OREGON (24-10)

Lydick 2-7 0-0 4, Cox 3-9 0-2 6, McWhorter 6-9 0-3 12, Widmer 1-6 1-2 12, Fode 4-10 0-0 9, Henry 3-6 1-5 9, Coudriet 3-9 0-2 8, Windell 0-0 0-0 0, Fowler 0-0 0-0 0, Richmire 2-8 1-3 5, Smith 2-5 4-6 8. Totals: 26-69 7-23 65.

Halftime score -- Southern Oregon 25, Western Oregon 21. 3-point field goals -- Southern Oregon 4-12 (Lamb 1-3, Winchester 3-6, Taylor 0-3), Western Oregon 6-21 (Widmer 1-6, Fode 1-5, Henry 2-4, Coudriet 2-6). Rebounds -- Southern Oregon 47 (Berry 13),

Western Oregon 44 (McWhorter 13). Assists -- Southern Oregon 11 (Lamb 5), Western Oregon 19 (Widmer 7). Turnovers -- Southern Oregon 19, Western Oregon 16, Team fouls -- Southern Oregon 20, Western Oregon 30. Fouled out -- Westerberg, McWhorter. A -- 1,200.