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Southern Oregon men finally knock of Oregon Tech

Photo Jim Craven

ASHLAND -- They had to dodge a bullet from one of their former players, but the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team escaped with a 71-70 victory over Oregon Tech on Tuesday night.

OIT's Jamie Hammericksen nailed a long shot from the baseline as time expired, but the officials ruled that he had stepped over the 3-point line, thus depriving the Owls of a crucial extra point that would have tied the contest and sent it into overtime.

The ecstatic Raiders mobbed one another at center court in McNeal Pavilion shortly after the final buzzer sounded, ending a dozen games and four seasons of futility against their archrivals from Klamath Falls.

Not since the 1993-94 season had the Raiders beaten OIT.

I thought it was a 3-pointer but obviously they (the officials) thought I stepped over the line, said Hammericksen, a North Medford High School graduate who played for Southern Oregon two years ago. Right after I made the shot I looked at them and they acted like they didn't really know if was a 3-pointer or not, and then one of them held up two fingers.

Hammericksen was guarded closely by the Raiders' Dave Arbow and had to duck underneath him in order to launch the shot that found nothing but net.

I tried to pump-fake him but he didn't go for it, Hammericksen said. He played me tough so I had to create a shot.

The victory kept the Raiders, who won just two of 31 games a year ago, in the playoff hunt. They are now 3-4 in the Cascade Conference and 9-12 overall.

Oregon Tech is also 3-4 in conference play and 10-8 overall.

Southern Oregon dominated the first half, hitting 11 of its first 13 shots and building 15-point leads on three separate occasions.

The Raiders settled for a 40-29 lead at the intermission, but then saw their shooting touch flounder for much of the second half.

Given the opening, Tech crept back. Matt Foster, who led the Owls with 17 points, nailed a 10-foot jumper from the baseline as the second half began.

Ryan Valley's tough inside play enabled the Raiders to remain on top for a while -- he had six of his team-high 16 points in the first five minutes of the second half -- but the Owls kept the pressure on.

Three-point baskets by Kevin Carlston and Townsend pulled the Owls to within 60-55 with six minutes remaining in the game and Foster finally got the visitors even at 64-64 with a free throw with 2:01 to play.

The Raiders looked to be in trouble when Scott Logue missed two free throws at the other end, but Arbow got the rebound and they re-set their offense.

Southern Oregon put the ball in the hands of standout point guard Jacques Francis, who drove the lane and dished off to reserve forward Amos Baker for a layup.

The Raiders never trailed again.

We designed a play for me to go one-on-one to the basket and when I did that Baker's man came flying at me, said Francis, who finished with six points and a game-high nine assists. I was in the air with basically no place to go but he (Baker) made a great cut and I hit him with the pass.

Baker's bucket gave SOU a 66-64 advantage. Arbow made three of four free throws and Tom Chipps sank two of two over the final 44 seconds as the Raiders hung on for the biggest win in coach Brian McDermott's two years at the school.

We got a big win over Willamette in a tournament earlier this season but tonight's win is really special, McDermott said. It's a league game, it has playoff implications and it came against a big rival.

McDermott said he never felt comfortable when the Raiders mounted their 15-point leads in the first half.

We've been a real streaky team on offense -- I knew they (Oregon Tech) would come back, McDermott said. For a while in that second half it seemed like they were getting all the breaks. But we survived and it feels great.

Chipps finished with 14 points and Baker 10 for the Raiders.

Foster had eight rebounds along with his game-high 17 points to lead Oregon Tech, which has now lost three conference games by a total of six points.

Southern Oregon did a great job -- they dug us a hole that we really never climbed out of, Oregon Tech coach Dan Miles said. It's tough to fall away behind and come back when you're playing a road game.

Southern Oregon plays host to Eastern Oregon on Friday and to Northwest College on Saturday. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

OREGON TECH (10-8)

Carlston 4-8 3-5 12, Woodson 0-0 0-0 0, Abdur-Rahman 2-4 2-4 6, Kaiser 2-3 0-1 5, Foster 5-8 7-11 17, Maerz 0-1 2-2 2, Regan 2-2 0-0 4, Conrad 1-2 0-0 2, Hammericksen 4-8 4-5 12, Townsend 3-10 2-4 10, Bruner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-46 20-32 70.

SOUTHERN OREGON (9-12)

Lacy 3-7 0-2 6, Francis 3-6 0-0 6, Schmerbach 3-5 0-0 7, Chipps 4-8 4-5 14, Valley 7-9 2-7 16, Haynes 0-1 0-0 0, Arbow 2-7 3-4 8, Guy 2-2 0-1 4, Baker 2-7 6-6 10, Logue 0-1 0-2 0. Totals: 26-53 15-28 71.

Halftime--S. Oregon 41, Oregon Tech 29. 3-point goals--Oregon Tech 4-10 (Carlston 1-1, Kaiser 1-1, Maerz 0-1, Hammericksen 0-1, Townsend 2-6). Fouled out--Abdur-Rahman, Baker. Rebounds--Oregon Tech 39 (Foster 8), S. Oregon 22 (Baker 4). Assists--Oregon Tech 17 (Carlston 5), S. Oregon 19 (Francis). Total fouls--Oregon Tech 24, S. Oregon 26. Attendance--500.

Southern Oregon's Tom Chipps (left) and Jaques Francis wrestle with Oregon Tech's Bob Townsend.