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No. 16 SOU aims to slow Northwest Christian, Corban

ASHLAND — The search for road success has proven to be futile early on for Cascade Conference men’s basketball teams, but 16th-ranked Southern Oregon will attempt to change that this weekend.

Two big tests await the Raiders (13-2, 3-1 CCC), today in Eugene at Northwest Christian (9-3, 2-1) and Saturday in Salem at Corban (9-3, 2-1). Both games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Thus far in CCC play, road teams have a combined record of 4-14. Corban has two of those wins (on Dec. 19-20 at Evergreen and Northwest), SOU has one and Northwest Christian owns the other.

The Raiders are coming off two key home wins over Eastern Oregon (114-104, overtime) and second-ranked College of Idaho (77-74) that put them in first place. They’re 4-1 against ranked foes this season.

Quick hits:

- As usual, the offense went through Tim Weber in SOU’s latest victories. He notched his third triple-double of the season against EOU and posted averages of 23 points, eight assists and 7.5 rebounds on the weekend. The 6-foot-8 senior wing averages 7.2 assists overall, ranking third in the NAIA, to go with 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds.

- SOU’s 49.1-percent shooting from the field ranks 15th in the NAIA. The Raiders have eclipsed 50 percent in three straight games an seven of their last eight.

- Freshman guard Ben DeSaulnier has come alive, averaging 10.3 points in his last seven games after averaging 2.8 in his first eight. He spurred the go-ahead run against College of Idaho with a 3-pointer and finished with a career-best 17 points.

- Jordan West has been one of SOU’s most consistent scorers at 13.1 points per game and yielded a career-best 27 against EOU. He’s hit double figures 12 times, making at least half of his attempts in all but two of those games.

- Eric Thompson leads the Raiders at 20.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest. He scored 14 of his 25 points in overtime against EOU, marking his 11th 20-point game of the season.

- Brian McDermott earned his 400th win as a collegiate head coach against College of Idaho. It was his 287th at SOU. Only 12 other active NAIA head coaches have 400 wins.

About Northwest Christian: The Beacons were a thorn in SOU’s side last season with three wins in games that went down to the wire, including an 86-74 decision that knocked the Raiders out in the CCC tournament quarterfinals and ultimately ended their season. NCU added some key transfers in Michael Loomis via Northwest Nazarene, Jack Hackman via University of Hawaii and Devyn Iglehart via Southwest Baptist. Perhaps their biggest addition of all, though, was a transfer of a less conventional variety: 6-foot-7 post Jay Mayernik, who averaged 14 points and 7.6 rebounds in nine games for SOU during the 2003-04 season before leaving school. Eleven years later he’s back on the floor for NCU and shooting 87 percent (20-for-23) with an average of 11.5 points in four games.

Raider-killer Javonte Byrd leads the team at 13.6 points per game, and all-conference post Austin Kuemper adds 12.3 and 5.6 rebounds. Six players are averaging at least eight points for NCU, which shoots 51.1 percent from the field and a league-best 42.2 percent from downtown.

SOU leads the all-time series with the Beacons, 25-19. The last three games the teams have played in Eugene required overtime.

About Corban: With one of their most well-rounded teams in recent history, the Warriors are riding a four-game win streak with an average margin of victory of 22.3 points. Junior forward Cyrus Ward leads the way with 16.8 points on 60-percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds, and the Warriors feature a potent backcourt duo in senior Jordan Carter (14.8 points, 3.9 assists) and freshman AJ Monterossi (13.6 points, 4.8 assists). The Warriors are shooting a league-best 51.2 percent as a team and holding opponents to a 38.7-percent clip.

SOU has won four straight against Corban and trails the all-time series, 41-37.