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Last-second shots miss as Raiders fall

ATHERTON, Calif. — The Southern Oregon men's basketball team had a chance to beat the buzzer for the second straight day at Menlo's Bud Presley Classic, but Saturday's attempts rimmed out in an 84-82 loss to 17th-ranked Westmont (Calif.) of the NAIA Div. I level.

Twenty-four hours after Ben DeSaulnier's game-winner against Menlo, the Raiders were down two needing to travel the length of the court with 2.9 seconds remaining. Gary Melvin caught the inbounds pass inside halfcourt, got to the basket and missed a contested shot, and Clay Sierra — who somehow made it down the floor after setting a screen for the inbounder to start the play — missed the put-back.

The Warriors, who returned four starters from last year's team that advanced to the national championship game, improved to 5-2. They shot a blistering 9-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half to take a 48-45 lead, and were up 61-49 five minutes into the second half.

The Raider will enter Cascade Conference play next weekend with a 7-2 record. They open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Corban and at 3 p.m. Sunday against 12th-ranked Northwest Christian. All remaining home games will be played at Ashland High's Mountain Avenue Gym.

Sierra and Melvin sparked the Raiders to make the last-second attempt possible — Sierra with 9-of-9 shooting for 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Melvin with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the second half.

SOU shot 55 percent from the field (29-of-53) but missed seven of 10 free-throw attempts in the final five minutes.

Trailing 82-74 with 2:30 left to play, the Raiders staged an 8-1 run with two baskets each by Melvin and Sierra inside, three of which were in transition. After Sierra's layup with 2.9 seconds left, Westmont's Sean Harman was fouled before the ball was inbounded and made one of two free throws.

Cory Blau scored a game-high 20 points for the Warriors. After shooting 17-of-25 in the first half, they cooled down in the second, where they went 1-for-8 from downtown.

Joel Spear recorded 11 points, eight assists and four rebounds for SOU. Jordan West had 13 points in 12 minutes, sitting most of the second half with four fouls.