Raiders dominate conference awards
ASHLAND — From its one-loss record in the regular season to its romp through the tournament, the Southern Oregon women's basketball team thoroughly dominated the Cascade Collegiate Conference by any measure.
That was accurately reflected in postseason awards voting, which was released Tuesday by the league office.
Senior point guard Ashley Claussen was named the seventh CCC player of the year in program history, and she was joined on the 12-person All-CCC team by senior center Carly Meister and junior forward Autumn Durand.
Alex Carlson was voted coach of the year, former Crater standout Courtney Setzer the freshman of the year and Toria Bradford the co-defensive player of the year, giving the Raiders a clean sweep of the awards for the first time.
At 29-1 overall, SOU won its first CCC titles in eight years has matched the single-season program wins record and, at No. 5, owns its highest national ranking since 1999. The Raiders are now awaiting today's announcement of the national tournament bracket.
"To get all of this recognition is exciting but it just shows the depth of our team and the unselfish play that has allowed this many people to be recognized," Carlson said.
Carlson, who was hired last May after spending two years at University of Alaska Anchorage as an assistant and associate head coach, is the CCC's first first-year head coach to be honored since Western Oregon's Rusty Rogers in 1994.
Claussen, Meister and Kristin Smeaton have the most career wins (103) in school history.
Claussen became the leading scorer in the conference (17.5 points per game) with some staggering shooting numbers, including 48 percent from the field (up 10 percent from last year), 44 percent from 3-point range and 88 percent from the foul line.
She's ranked fourth in the CCC in assists (3.7) and first in steals (3.0).
The Scotts Valley, Calif., native has broken SOU's record for 3-point makes in a season (88) and last week became the first SOU player to record at least 1,000 points (1,392) and 500 assists (508) in a career.
"It's a great honor for Ashley and I'm very excited for her because of the hard work she's put in to get to this point," Carlson said. "Her offensive numbers and the way she's led our team have been impressive, but she's a true player of the year because of what she does at the other end, too, setting the tone for our defense."
Claussen was also an All-CCC selection last season, and Meister became the third three-time All-CCC selection in SOU history.
A 6-foot-2 product of Elma, Wash., Meister missed the first month of her senior season with an injury but made an immediate impact upon her return. During CCC play, she ranked seventh in scoring (12.8), fifth in rebounding (7.1), sixth in blocked shots (1.2) and third in field-goal percentage (59.7) — despite playing less than 20 minutes 11 times due to blowout wins.
Her two biggest games were also SOU's most important: She shot 10-for-11 with 22 points and 10 boards as the Raiders avenged their only loss of the season on Feb. 13 against Eastern Oregon, and she went 11-for-13 with 24 points and eight boards in SOU's defeat of OIT in the tournament title game Monday.
With 1,440 points, 799 rebounds and 22 double-doubles for her career, she'll go down as one of the best to wear a Raider uniform.
Durand, a 5-11 junior power forward from Onalaska, Wash., was among the CCC leaders in six major statistical categories: points per game (11.5, 14th), rebounds (7.9, fourth), steals (1.8, 11th), blocks (1.0, seventh), field-goal percentage (52.7, seventh) and free-throw percentage (80.3, seventh).
The 6-foot Setzer is SOU's first freshman of the year since Meister in 2013. A reserve, Setzer produced 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds during conference action, ranking first in field-goal percentage (63.7) and ninth in blocks (0.9). She's scored in double figures 11 times, including twice in the conference tourney.
Bradford, a 5-5 sophomore who came to SOU following one season at Clackamas Community College, had the fourth-most steals in the CCC — 2.4 per game — and helped the Raiders rank second in the nation in turnover margin (plus 8) and steals per game (15).
Northwest Christian's Monique Thompson was the other co-defensive player of the year.