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Raiders host Yotes in quarterfinal round

ASHLAND — The only thing missing from one of the most successful regular seasons in Southern Oregon women's basketball history was a Cascade Conference title.

The eighth-ranked Raiders (25-3 overall, 15-3 Cascade Conference) have a chance to amend that with a tournament title as the CCC Championships begin at 7 tonight. SOU owns the No. 2 seed and will host seventh-seeded College of Idaho (8-19, 7-11) in a quarterfinal matchup at Bob Riehm Arena.

SOU enters the contest with a 13-1 record over its last 14 games and a perfect 13-0 mark at home. The Raiders finished one game behind conference champ Eastern Oregon, but the second-place finish was still their best in seven years. They advanced to last season's CCC tourney championship game, upsetting top-seeded EOU along the way, but fell short in the finale at Oregon Tech.

The Raiders have hosting rights through at least the CCC's semifinal round, which will take place at 7 p.m. Friday. The championship is set for the same time on Monday.

Tonight's other quarterfinal games are eighth-seeded Concordia (12-15, 6-12) at top-seeded Eastern Oregon (24-5, 16-2); No. 6 Northwest Christian (12-14, 8-10) at No. 3 Corban (17-13, 11-7); and No. 5 Oregon Tech (20-10, 9-9) at No. 4 Evergreen (16-9, 10-8). The tournament is not in bracket format, meaning the lowest remaining seed will play the highest remaining seed in the semifinals.

EOU earned one of the conference's two automatic berths to the NAIA tournament by winning the regular-season title. The other will go to the tournament champion — unless that champion is again EOU, in which case it will go to SOU for placing second in the regular season.

SOU last won the CCC tournament in 2008 with an 82-72 overtime victory over College of Idaho.

Even if the Raiders don't get an automatic berth, they appear to be a lock for an at-large bid to the NAIA tournament, which will take place March 11-17 at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. They're No. 8 in the NAIA Division II coaches' poll, and the final at-large last year went to the No. 30 team. The final poll will be released following the conference tournaments.

SOU swept the regular-season series with College of Idaho, winning the first matchup 112-70 on Dec. 20 in Ashland. The Raiders shot a season-best 60 percent from the field and outscored the Yotes 53-21 in the second half, leading to the highest point total ever for a C of I opponent. Kristen Schoenherr's 22 points led six Raiders in double figures.

SOU won 79-66 on Jan. 23 in Caldwell, Idaho, breaking a 51-all tie with a 20-4 surge started at the 11-minute mark. Ashley Claussen and Alexi Smith scored 18 points apiece and Carly Meister had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Raiders' first win on C of I's floor in six years.

The Yotes enter the game having lost seven of their last nine and are 2-11 on the road overall.

Southern Oregon University coach Lynn Kennedy, junior Ashley Claussen and the rest of the Raiders face College of Idaho tonight in the conference quarterfinals. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.