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Central Methodist ends Southern Oregon title hopes

SOUIX CITY, Iowa -- Southern Oregon has experienced the unexpected the past two years at the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament.

In 1997, the Raiders came into the 32-team tournament lightly regarded and advanced all the way to the semifinals before suffering a one-point loss. This season, Southern Oregon returned the nucleus of last year's team and began as one of the tournament favorites with a No. 2 ranking.

But all those high expectations went dissipated Friday as 15th-seeded Central Methodist College of Fayette, Mo., sent the Raiders packing with a stunning 74-71 victory over the Raiders.

A big reason the Raiders got knocked out in the second round was Amber Feaker. The Iowa native, who led her Class 2A high school team to the 1994 state title, poured in a career-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds. More importantly, she provided a nifty baseline drive for a go-ahead three-point play with 44 seconds remaining and iced the game with two free throws with 1.6 seconds left.

Southern Oregon seemed to have the game well in hand when it increased an eight-point halftime lead to 12 points early in the second half.

We just let them hang around and then, at crucial times, we had turnovers, said Southern Oregon coach Shirley Huyett, as the Raiders finished the season at 28-4. We had way too many turnovers (26).

Trailing virtually the entire game, the Eagles stayed close enough to threaten, then made their move late after Southern Oregon squandered precious opportunities on double dribble and traveling violations.

Feaker put the Eagles ahead 72-71 with an athletic glide along the baseline and subsequent free throw. Central Methodist hadn't owned the lead since a 17-16 first half edge.

Southern Oregon still had two more chances to regain the upper hand. The first of these saw Feaker wrestle the ball away from Lindsay Taylor as the junior forward was setting up the half-court offense.

Then, after Central's Leigh Yarick missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18 seconds to play, the favored Raiders took time-out to map a game-saving strategy.

It didn't work, however, as Megan Winchester fired an entry pass that fellow senior Michelle Westerberg couldn't handle, losing the ball out of bounds with 3.6 seconds to play.

Feaker was fouled on the inbounds play and converted both free throws to complete a 7-0 run over the final 2:40. Southern Oregon, which sank six of 14 3-point goals to gain a 44-36 halftime cushion, launched just one trey in the second half and it failed to find the range.

They just did a good job on us defensively, said Huyett. They played hard and didn't let us get a lot of good looks at the basket in the second half.

Cascade Conference player of the year Nada Janackovic and Taylor led five Raiders in double figures with 14 points each. Janackovic also took game rebounding honors with 12.

It wasn't a good tournament for the three tournament teams from the Cascade Conference, which produced the last three national champions.

Southern Oregon league rivals, sixth-seeded Western Oregon and unseeded Albertson College, failed to make it out of the first round.

It was the best year ever for Southern Oregon women's basketball, said Huyett. Obviously we would have liked to take it a step further. Sometimes you don't win even if you are the better team out there.

SOUTHERN OREGON (28-4)

Lamb 1-3 3-4 5, Winchester 3-11 3-4 10, Richards 1-2 0-0 2, Saltzman 0-0 0-0 0, Fisher 0-0 6-8 6, Janackovic 3-12 8-10 14, Taylor 5-9 0-0 14, Berry 5-11 0-0 10, Blakley 0-1 0-0 0, Westerberg 3-6 3-3 10. Totals: 21-55 23-29 71.

CENTRAL METHODIST (24-7)

Euka 0-2 0-0 0, Yarick 0-3 0-2 0, Feaker 10-21 7-9 30, Pollock 0-1 2-2 2, Pomajzl 2-4 0-2 4, Krog 2-7 0-0 4, Thomas 2-4 4-7 7, Pauly 5-13 6-11 16, Butts 5-13 0-0 10. Totals: 26-68 19-31 74.

Halftime--S. Oregon 44, C. Methodist 36. 3-point goals--S. Oregon 6-15 (Lamb 0-1, Winchester 1-4, Richards 0-1, Taylor 4-6, Blakley 0-1, Westerberg 1-2), C. Methodist 3-9 (Eurka 0-1, Yarick 0-1, Feaker 3-7). Fouled out--Fisher, Berry, Pauly). Rebounds--S. Oregon 35 (Janackovic 12), C. Methodist 38 (Feaker 9). Assists--S. Oregon 5 (Lamb 3), C. Methodist 7 (Featker 3). Total fouls--S. Oregon 28, C. Methodist 21. Technical foul--C. Methodist bench.