Ice-cold SOU stumbles at OIT
KLAMATH FALLS — The 11th-ranked Southern Oregon men's basketball team ran out of magic Tuesday night at Danny Miles Court, and its streak against Oregon Tech ran out of legs.
Paralyzed by a woeful shooting night, the Raiders fell 67-51 to the Owls, putting an end to their run of consecutive wins in the rivalry at eight. SOU went to 13-4 overall and 6-1 in the Cascade Collegiate Conference, and OIT improved to 12-4 and 3-4.
The Raiders were down 29-21 at the break after 7 of 23 shooting from the field and 5 of 14 inaccuracy from the free-throw line.
They'd trailed at halftime in five of their previous six CCC victories, but this time the night didn't get any prettier. They ended at 33 percent from the field, their lowest mark since Dec. 6, 2014 at Warner Pacific.
Joel Yellow Owl led OIT with 18 points on 9 of 16 shooting, leading the Owls to 48 percent (28 of 58) for the game. Andrew Weber — the younger brother of SOU's 2014-15 NAIA All-American Tim Weber — had eight points with eight boards and four blocks, and Lavar Moore added 15 points.
With OIT leading 34-27 and 16:30 left, Weber extended a possession with two offensive rebounds and finished it with one of his two 3-pointers. When the night began, the sophomore had made three triples in his career.
Moore's jumper at the 10:31 gave the Owls a 49-36 edge. That's when the Raiders looked ready to make their move: Clay Sierra hit a jump-hook on the other end, and Joel Spear stole the ensuing inbounds pass and dropped it in. But Yellow Owl and Derek Evans answered with back-to-back buckets, and SOU was never closer than 11 back the rest of the way.
Spear led the Raiders with 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Sierra and Jordan West scored 11 apiece, but West and Ben DeSaulnier — who own SOU's top scoring averages — were limited to a combined 5 of 20 effort from the field. Kenny Meyer, coming off a career-best 18-point night in which he went 4-for-5 from downtown, was 0-for-5, scoring all of his five points at the free-throw line.
The rematch is set for Feb. 9 in Ashland.
OIT's last win over SOU had been a 78-60 decision in Klamath Falls on Feb. 4, 2012.
SOU 61, OREGON TECH 48: At Klamath Falls, first-year Southern Oregon coach Alex Carlson was reminded in the first half of the home-court advantage he enjoyed during his playing days at Oregon Tech.
But while the second-place Owls and a partisan crowd at Danny Miles Court slowed the 12th-ranked Raiders' offense temporarily, their defense still hasn't slumped. SOU's win was largely the product of 24-percent shooting by the Owls, making them the fifth straight Raider opponent to land under 30.
Carlson, the only coach in SOU history to win even his first game at the helm, has led the Raiders to a program-record 14 straight wins to start the season, and they're 7-0 in Cascade Collegiate Conference action going into Sunday's game at Walla Walla (Wash.). SOU has won 22 consecutive regular-season contests dating back to last season.
OIT dropped to 11-5 and 5-2 in the circuit.
The game was the Raiders' worst from the field of the season. After entering the night with the second-highest scoring average in the nation (89 points), they hit just 31 percent of their shots, and top scorers Ashley Claussen (five points, six rebounds, four assists) and Carly Meister (10 points, seven rebounds) were held 20 points below their combined season clips.
Demi Sahlinger led all scorers with a career-high 11 points, including two of SOU's five 3-pointers. Autumn Durand had nine points and 11 rebounds, and Toria Bradford contributed eight points and six boards off the bench.
OIT's game-long challenges against SOU's defensive pressure were apparent early. The Owls went 7:41 before their first bucket and committed eight of their 16 turnovers in the first quarter.
The Owls never got closer than 10 in the fourth. They were led by Ashleigh Vandenbrink's 11 points and six rebounds, and Megan Whetstone and Morgan Roberts scored eight apiece.
The Raiders had lost four straight at OIT by an average of 23 points before winning the last two.
SOU and Saint Xavier (Ill.) are the only undefeated teams left at the NAIA Division II level.