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DeSaulnier's buzzer-beater saves Raiders

ATHERTON, Calif. — Sophomore guard Ben DeSaulnier has a tendency to rack up points quietly for the Southern Oregon men's basketball team, but the last of his 24 on Friday were met with a loud buzzer and a roaring Raiders bench.

Trailing Menlo by one point with four seconds left, SOU came out of a timeout needing to take the ball the length of the court. DeSaulnier collected the inbounds pass, streaked down the sideline toward the basket, absorbed contact and threw a short runner off the backboard and in as time expired for a 67-66 Raiders win over the host Oaks on the first day of the Bud Presley Classic.

DeSaulnier's final bucket marked the 10th lead change of the second half, made him 8-of-13 from the field, ended a four-game win streak for the Oaks (5-3) and gave the Raiders (7-1) their fifth straight victory.

SOU takes on Westmont (Calif.), last season's NAIA Div. I runner-up, at 2 p.m. today on the last day of the Classic.

The Raiders had to labor through one of their worst offensive games of the season, shooting 41 percent (21-of-51) from the field and making just three of 12 3-point attempts — matching their lowest make total from downtown in the last three seasons. Menlo also grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, which resulted in a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points.

Kenny Meyer gave the Raiders a lift off the bench with a season-high 12 points and three assists. Point guard Joel Spear chimed in with eight points and four rebounds.

After trailing for most of the first half, DeSaulnier and Meyer hit back-to-back triples to give SOU a 33-27 edge at the break.

A back-and-forth second half ensued, fueled by the Oaks drilling their first three 3-point attempts. They took a 63-62 lead with 46 seconds left when Rosendo AmayaWood made a pair of free throws, but Clay Sierra gave it back to the Raiders on the other end when he picked up a loose ball and converted a basket-and-one in traffic.

On the other end, Menlo guard Mikey Eggleton got loose in the corner for a 3 that swished through with four seconds left, putting the Oaks up 66-65 and setting up DeSaulnier's theatrics.

DeSaulnier, who had 15 points in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting, has now scored 20-plus in five straight games and six times this season. He's averaging 22.1 on less than 12 field-goal attempts a game.

AmayaWood finished with 15 points and 13 boards for the Oaks, who were limited to 39-percent shooting (25-of-65). Brad Sawin scored 14, and Dylan Severson had eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists.