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SOU blows by C of I

ASHLAND — Some day, Lynn Kennedy will lose his "It's just another game" speech. But for now he'll keep saying it — maybe all the way to a Cascade Collegiate Conference championship.

The Raiders took another major step in that direction Friday night, jumping out to a big early lead then methodically extending it the rest of the way in an 84-63 pasting of The College of Idaho at McNeal Pavilion.

The rout allowed SOU to stay one game behind Eastern Oregon in the CCC women's basketball standings heading into tonight's clash with the Mountaineers.

Southern Oregon (20-3, 11-2 CCC) and Eastern Oregon (18-2, 12-1) each have seven games left on their regular-season schedules. The team that wins the league's regular season championship earns an automatic berth to the national tournament.

"We'll treat it as another game," Kennedy said of tonight's contest. "There's so much more basketball to be played. They know it. I told them to enjoy it tonight then to be ready. Eastern's good."

So is The College of Idaho (13-7, 10-3). But not Friday, and not against a Raider team that simultaneously feasted on that dangerous full-court press while also putting up a menacing defense of its own. When the dust settled, Southern held C of I to 27 percent shooting, outrebounded the visitors 65-55 and waltzed off the floor with its eighth win in a row.

Whitney Scott led the way off the Raider bench, draining 3 of 7 treys and 6 of 6 free throws on her way to a game-high 19 points. Jacki Speer added 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in only 23 foul-plagued minutes, and Chelsey Muri scored 11 points and came up with three of SOU's 11 steals.

"I think the biggest thing was to remain calm, because they have a very good press that they ran against us," said Scott, who also had four steals. "So, you just gotta be poised, calm down and find the open man. I think we did a good job of that."

For the Coyotes, Christon Vander Esch and Whitney Clark scored 14 points apiece, but needed a combined 32 shots to do it as the Southern Oregon defense held the league's No. 2 offense to 20 field goals on 73 attempts.

"Defense is kind of our baby," Speer said.

That was especially the case early on, when Southern Oregon repeatedly turned defensive stops into fastbreak layups or foul-drawing drives — the latter a pattern that led to 41 free throw attempts. A Scott 3 gave SOU a 25-13 lead midway through the first half and another bomb four minutes later by Emily Brookins made it 32-19.

Things only got worse for the Coyotes in the second half. After C of I scored the first three points to get within 44-37, the Raiders ran off seven straight, including five points by Rhiannon Dickison, to extend their lead to 14.

Six minutes later Muri delivered an emotional knockout punch of sorts, knocking down a 3-pointer moments after SOU snared an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. That put Southern Oregon up 66-46, and the Coyotes were never closer than 15 again.

Now, the Raiders can turn their attention to an Eastern Oregon team that beat the Raiders in overtime back on Nov. 30.

"We almost got them last time," Speer said, "so we have to pay them back."

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456 ext. 224, or e-mail joe.zavala@dailytidings.com

Southern Oregon University senior guard Chelsey Muri drives to the basket against two defenders during Friday’s game. - Thom Larkin