West's last-second score gives SOU upset
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — Midland (Neb.) had closed out six NAIA Division II Tournament wins the last two years but couldn't shake the Southern Oregon men's basketball team Thursday afternoon at Keeter Gymnasium.
Tim Weber drove the length of the floor and dumped off a pass to Jordan West for the game-winning layup with 1.5 seconds left, giving the 21st-ranked Raiders a 73-71 upset of the 10th-seeded and 11th-ranked Warriors in the first round.
Midland (27-7 overall) — which returned three of its top four scorers from last year's team that reached the championship game — had its largest lead at 56-44 with 11:57 remaining. That's when the Raiders began to piece together a 20-4 run that took the next seven minutes and changed the game.
SOU plays a Sweet 16 contest — its third in school history and second in the last three years — at 11:45 a.m. PDT today against 24th-ranked Grace (Ind.). Grace (22-10) pulled off the biggest upset of the tourney thus far during the morning session with a 54-50 win over seventh-seeded Bellevue (Neb.).
West had a game-high 21 points with five rebounds, going 9-for-17 from the floor. Eric Thompson totaled 15 points and nine rebounds, Weber had 15 points, six assists and four boards, and Ben DeSaulnier scored 11.
"When we trust what we do, we're pretty good," SOU coach Brian McDermott said. "When we get away from what we do, we're not so good. But with our personnel, we're pretty hard to guard, and we stayed in it and kept believing instead of going away from our stuff."
The Raiders are now 12-2 this season in games that have been separated by two points or less within the final two minutes of regulation.
West's basket-and-one got them going when they were down 12, and Joel Spear found a cutting West for the bucket that tied it at 60-all with six minutes left. Thompson and Weber then made four straight free throws to give SOU a four-point lead that was quickly taken back by Midland, which answered with five straight to go up 65-64 with 3:25 left.
DeSaulnier responded with a 3-pointer for the Raiders. After Midland's Marcus Franklin tied it at 67, Weber and DeSaulnier made two free throws apiece on successive possessions for a 71-67 SOU lead.
Galen Gullie cut it to 71-69 with a layup at the 44-second mark, and Jesse Jones picked off Thompson's pass on SOU's ensuing possession for an uncontested transition layup that tied it with seven seconds left.
Without taking a timeout, Weber dribbled down the floor and stopped a few feet short of the basket to shovel to West, who was streaking in from the left corner while his defender was fixated on Weber.
Franklin led the Warriors with 18 points, scoring near the basket on four straight possessions at one point in the first half and then making consecutive triples. Gullie, Midland's starting point guard last year on its 2013 team that reached the quarterfinals, scored 15 points, and his 3-pointer before the first-half buzzer put the Warriors up 41-35.
Alex Starkel, a 6-foot-6 forward who came in as Midland's leading scorer at 16 points per game, was held to six on 3-of-14 shooting.
Spear chipped in seven points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Raiders.
SOU has only advanced to the quarterfinals once, in 2005, and when it plays Grace, it will be the only game between two unseeded teams in the second round.
"They're physical and they're similar to a lot of teams in this tournament in terms of trying to go off the dribble a lot," McDermott said, "but we think we match up pretty well."