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Concordia upends SOU

The defending Cascade Conference champions are finding out how hard it is to repeat.

Concordia, on the other hand, it playing like it would love to have that problem.

The Cavaliers took another major step toward its dream of a first-ever league title Friday, stifling SOU's potent offense and utilizing a balanced offensive attack on their way to a 74-56 win at McNeal Pavilion.

Twin sisters Rebecca and Angela Gimeno combined to score 27 points and helped hold the 20th-ranked Raiders to a horrid 24-percent shooting clip as Concordia notched its 11th straight victory to improve to 11-1 overall and 4-0 in the Cascade Conference.

"Our kids have been playing really well together and they've really bought into that team chemistry that every team looks to get," said Concordia head coach Aaron Christian, whose team hasn't lost since Nov. 13. "To hold (SOU) to 19 points in the first half, that's hard to do, especially on their home court, so we were really proud of our kids' effort for that. Maybe we caught Southern on an off night shooting, too, or maybe it's a combination of both, but we'll take it."

The Raiders (10-3, 2-2 Cascade), meanwhile, who were picked to win the conference in a preseason coaches poll, lost for the third time in their last five games after starting the season with eight straight victories. Now, SOU must beat Corban at home today to get back above .500 in league play heading into its upcoming four-game road trip.

"We knew they would be (a contender)," SOU head coach Lynn Kennedy said of Concordia. "Every loss now is tough, especially at home."

The streaking Cavaliers closed the door early in this one, using a 16-4 run in the first half to take a commanding 18-point lead, 29-11, on Rachel Scarpelli's layup with about five minutes to go. They led by 16 at the break and by as much as 19 early in the second half before the Raiders mounted their charge.

Pressing and trapping at will, Southern's defense created enough offense to spearhead a 13-2 run which cut the lead to eight points with 11:17 to go. But SOU missed its next 10 field goal attempts and the Cavaliers, led by Sarah Eischen and Rebecca Gimeno, capitalized with a 15-4 knockout blow. Eischen scored eight and Gimeno six in the key rally.

"We came back, and then again we started settling for outside shots," Kennedy said.

Rebecca Gimeno had 16 points and eight assists, five steals and six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot 52 percent (28-for-54), including 4-for-11 from 3-point range. Angela Gimeno added 12 points and six rebounds and Ann Snodderly had 10 points and nine boards.

The Raiders, who turned the ball over 26 times, got another spectacular performance by Jacki Speer but little else. Speer recorded her fifth straight double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds to go with two blocks and three steals. Emily Brookins added 13 points; after that, only one other Raider topped five points as SOU hit just 5 of 32 shots in the first half and 17 of 70 for the game.

"We outrebounded them, we took 16 more shots than they did, we had 27 offensive boards, but when you only shoot whatever we did that's going to be the outcome," Kennedy said.

Southern Oregon’s Jacki Speer (44) pushes past Concordia’s Sarah Eischen (33) for a shot at the basket during Friday’s Cascade Conference game at McNeal Pavilion in Ashland.