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SOU men, women start conference play with big matchups

The Southern Oregon University men's and women's basketball teams open up Cascade Conference play this weekend at home with a pair of key matchups.

The Raiders host Concordia tonight and Warner Pacific Saturday night. The women's games start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.

Tonight's slate is highlighted by a matchup of ranked teams in the women's game.

Southern Oregon (8-0) jumped up from 18th to 12th in this week's NAIA Top 25 poll and also received one first place vote. Concordia is ranked 19th and went 5-2 in the preseason.

The 8-0 start for the Raiders ties last year's 8-0 start for the most wins to start a season in school history.

All eyes will once again be on SOU All-American Jacki Speer. Speer enters this weekend ranked first in the nation in rebounding (14.7 per-game), third in scoring (24.5) and third in blocks (2.7). She also leads the Cascade Conference in all of those categories.

Speer also has a chance to break the school record for career rebounds this weekend, entering the two games with 1,048 rebounds, while Julie Finch holds the school record with 1,075.

On the men's side, tonight will feature a pair of up-and-coming teams.

Southern Oregon is 7-1 and off to its best start since the 2005-06 season. Concordia comes in after going a perfect 8-0 in the preseason.

The Raiders have five players averaging double-figures heading into conference play. Ryan Staker, back from injury, is averaging 14.5 points, while Humphrey Jackson averages 14, Justonn Smith goes for 13.5, Drew Herrera goes for 10.5 and Roland Johnson averages 10.3.

As a team, the Raiders are shooting 48 percent from the field and scoring almost 82 points a game.

Concordia may be the best offensive team in the conference this year.

In the eight wins, the Cavs are averaging 91 points and shooting 52 percent from the field. They are also holding opponents to just under 40 percent shooting.

Alex Tiefenthaler leads the Cavs with 23 points per game.

Saturday's matchup will give the Raiders another chance to knock off a highly ranked opponent.

Last year SOU defeated three teams that were ranked in the NAIA's top 10 at the time.

Warner Pacific will come into Saturday's game ranked fifth in the Nation after going 5-2 in the preseason.

One of those losses came to Cal Maritime, a team that SOU defeated earlier in the season.

The Knights are led by Jake Glisson's nearly 20 points per-game, while Kaylone Riley is averaging 11 points and six blocks.