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SOU women match program's best start

SEASIDE, Calif. — Trailing by five points near the end of Tuesday night’s third quarter, the Southern Oregon women’s basketball team staged a 16-0 run that didn’t end until midway through the fourth to defeat Cal State Monterey Bay, 69-62, and match the best start in program history.

Ashley Claussen scored 21 points in the nonleague affair, and Tiani Bradford logged career highs of 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting, eight rebounds and four steals. Bradford scored eight points, including consecutive 3-pointers, during the decisive rally.

At 9-0 overall, the Raiders have matched the 2009-10 team for SOU’s best start of all time. They can better it when they return to Cascade Conference play Saturday at Evergreen State and Sunday at Northwest.

With Carly Meister limited by foul trouble to nine minutes and Claussen laboring through her toughest shooting night of the year (7-for-21), Tuesday marked the first time since the second game that the Raiders won by fewer than 18 points.

CSUMB, an NCAA Div. II opponent, led 50-45 when Mykayla Harris made two free throws with 1:32 left in the third quarter. The Otters didn’t score again until Victoria Dean’s triple cut SOU’s lead to 61-53 with 4:41 remaining, going a total of 7:44 without a field goal.

The Otters ended up 36 percent from the floor (22-for-61) — becoming the seventh SOU foe this season under 40 — and were forced into 20 turnovers.

Claussen also had four of the Raiders’ 14 steals. Courtney Setzer came off the bench to record eight points and four rebounds, and Autumn Durand had five points, nine boards and two steals.

Football

RUCKER HONORED: Julius Rucker, Southern Oregon University's junior safety, was named to the 25-person American Football Coaches' Association NAIA All-America first team.

Rucker, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound product of Portland's Westview High, is the 13th Raider in program history to become an All-American defender and the sixth defender named to the first team. He joins Nathan Mart (2000) and Nick Danicken (2002) as SOU's only first-team defensive backs.

Last year's NAIA championship defensive player of the game, Rucker spilled that momentum into his third season to compile a team-high 92 tackles, including 73 solo and four for losses. He's broken up nine passes, intercepted one, forced a fumble and returned a fumble 94 yards for a TD.

For his career, Rucker has 201 tackles and seven interceptions. He established a career-high with 14 tackles in SOU's season-opener at Carroll.

Wrestling

RAIDERS IN MEDFORD: The Southern Oregon men's and women's wrestling teams cmkopete at the Medford Armory Thursday's in the Doc Welton Classic.

The Simon Fraser (B.C.) and Pacific (Ore.) men's teams will meet at 11 a.m.; SOU and Pacific will have a men's and women's combined dual at 1 p.m.; and the Raider men will go head-to-head with Simon Fraser at 4 p.m.

The Raider men have been off for two weeks since a 26-18 win over 11th-ranked Simpson, which brought their dual record to 4-1. The Raider women grappled for the first time in three weeks at Sunday's Southwestern Oregon Invite in Coos Bay, where 136-pounder Chloe Spencer and 123-pounder Madelynn McIlwain took home titles.

Five Raider men are in the top 16 of their respective weight classes: No. 2 Tyler Cowger (149), No. 3 Ryan McWatters (184), No. 11 Chandler Michael (149), No. 11 Kyle Sether (157) and No. 14 Matt Peterson (133).