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SOU spoils Yotes' bid for ninth straight title

CALDWELL, Idaho — The 11th-ranked Southern Oregon University volleyball team cleared one hurdle on the path to a Cascade Conference championship Friday, defeating the College of Idaho on its court in five sets for the second straight year.

The Raiders (20-3 overall, 14-1 CCC) won the first two sets and had four chances to lock down their 10th straight win in the fifth, finally nailing it down as Sam Boehnke buzzed a kill by the Coyotes (13-11, 10-5) for a 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 18-16 final.

Despite fighting back from a 4-0 deficit in the final set, the Yotes never saw a match point of their own. And, with the loss, they were eliminated from contention of adding onto the eight straight conference titles they’ve either owned or shared.

The Yotes had won 73 consecutive home conference matches when SOU reset that number last season. Eastern Oregon is the only other team to have taken them out in Caldwell this year.

Speaking of the 13th-ranked Mountaineers, they’ll be waiting for SOU in La Grande for a match at 6 tonight with a chance to force a first-place tie and avenge a five-set loss in Ashland.

Sophomore middle Emma Gasman, whose kill on the previous point set up Boehnke’s winning swing, posted a team-high 18 kills on 39 attacks. Lauren McGowne spread out 56 assists in helping Motade Atanda to 16 kills, Boehnke to 12 and Paulla Pinheiro to 11.

Pinheiro also handled a career-high 26 digs to lead a Raider defense that sunk College of Idaho’s hitting average to .147. The Raiders only hit .148 but forced C of I into eight fifth-set attacking errors.

The regular-season sweep of C of I is SOU’s first since 2005.

Men's Basketball

SOU 98, NEW HOPE CHRISTIAN 86: At Ashland, 16 unanswered first-half points sparked Southern Oregon to the season-opening victory in the first round of the Flagship Inn Classic at Riehm Arena.

Eric Thompson had 25 points and 14 rebounds for the 17th-ranked Raiders, and it was his 3-pointer that untied a 23-all game and started the 16-0 run. SOU made its next three triples after Thompson’s, one by Tim Weber and two by Justin Martin, and the lead ballooned to 62-37 early in the second half before the Raiders went into cruise control.

Weber went 6-for-9 from the field with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Jacob Kaler made 7 of 10 shots for 19 points and Jordan West went 6-for-10 with 15 points and seven rebounds. Brennan Rakoz came off with bench with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting.

SOU’s 22-for-39 effort in the first half did not spill into the second, where the Raiders were 16-for-40.

Meanwhile, Calvin Molan’s 37 points kept the Deacons (0-3) competitive. He went 12-for-17 from the field and 10-for-11 form the line.

The Raiders play Menlo College at 7:30 tonight. The Oaks were defeated by Oregon Tech, 95-75.

Women's Basketball

SOU 90, MERCED 74: At Ashland, Southern Oregon pulled away from UC-Merced in the Raiders' season-opener at Riehm Arena in the Flagship Inn Classic.

Senior forward Alexi Smith had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead 21st-ranked SOU, which turned a 62-58 lead with 12 minutes remaining into 75-60 at the six-minute mark by turning four turnovers into buckets.

Carly Meister, the other half of SOU's inside tandem, went for 15 points and eight rebounds, Autumn Durand had 14 points and five assists, and Ashley Claussen dished out 11 assists. Tiani Bradford came off the bench with 11 points, while Courtney West did the same with eight points and seven rebounds on a 4-for-5 effort in her SOU debut.

The Raiders were held up by 23 turnovers, but shot 49 percent and assisted 28 of 36 buckets.

Merced (0-1) was held to a 37-percent (11-for-30) clip in the second stanza after going into halftime down 48-42. Shelby Howard kept the Bobcats in it with 19 points, drilling five 3-pointers, and Alexis Wu added 17 points.

SOU plays New Hope Christian at 5:30 p.m. today. New Hope lost 69-36 to Oregon Tech.