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Northwestern upsets SOU in opener at nationals

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Kassidy De Jong and the Northwestern College Red Raiders came up big late and shortened Southern Oregon's stay at the NAIA Division II Championships with an 83-68 first-round upset Thursday morning at the Tyson Events Center.

De Jong, a 5-foot-10 sophomore wing, scored 12 of her 29 points during 16-0 run that started midway through the fourth quarter and turned a two-point SOU lead into a comfortable Northwestern win. She also had eight rebounds, went 8-of-16 from the field and converted all 10 of her free-throw attempts, helping the 24th-ranked and sixth-seeded Red Raiders shoot 57 percent overall and 25-of-28 at the line.

Northwestern (20-11 overall) — based in Orange City, Iowa, and the fifth-place team from the Great Plains Athletic Conference — advanced to play second-seeded and undefeated Southeastern (Fla.) in Friday's second round. The Red Raiders, back after a two-year absence from the tournament, are now 14-0 all-time in the first round.

SOU, the No. 3 seed in the Cramer bracket and No. 12 overall, finished with a record of 27-5. On a day in which the Raiders shot just 36 percent, Toria Bradford scored 21 points with five rebounds and three assists and Majerle Reeves scored 17 with five 3-pointers to keep them in it. Outside of those two, the rest of the team combined to shoot 11-of-41.

Despite the fact that Northwestern shot 13-of-24 in the first half, SOU took a 44-38 lead into the break by way of a 12-3 advantage in turnovers that led to 13 more shots. In the third quarter, though, Northwestern stayed hot and matched the Raiders in the turnover category (5-5) to outscore them, 20-11.

De Jong opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that made it 61-55, but SOU came back with a 10-2 spurt keyed by a couple of Bradford floaters and capped by Autumn Durand's strong move inside that put the Raiders up for the last time, 65-63 with 5:54 left.

It was all De Jong from there. She went 5-for-6 in the period and pulled down two key offensive rebounds, and the Red Raiders hit the bonus early and went 13-of-16 on free throws while SOU didn't get to the line once.

After Durand's go-ahead basket, SOU went 1-for-9 and committed three turnovers the rest of the way.

Renee Maneman, Northwestern's all-star point guard, went 6-for-6 with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds but was turned over eight times.

Durand, a four-year starter and the 2016-17 Cascade Conference player of the year, finished with seven points, five assists and four rebounds. Demi Sahlinger had seven points and three assists, Tiani Bradford had seven points and five rebounds, and Casey Williams added five points and four steals off the bench.

Durand, Tiani Bradford, Sahlinger and Reeves will depart as SOU's all-time wins leaders with 112 over four years. Mullings, an All-CCC pick, went 2-for-6 in her final game and was limited by foul trouble to 21 minutes.