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SOU women cruise to quarterfinal win

ASHLAND — After posting the NAIA's fifth-best defensive rating during the regular season, Southern Oregon dialed the pressure up another notch in its postseason debut Tuesday night at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The No. 2-seeded Raiders eliminated seventh-seeded Northwest (Wash.) 75-50 in the quarterfinal round of the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank, sticking the Eagles with their lowest point total in 14 games.

Sophomore forward Kami Walk scored 20 points and junior guard Brianna Phiakhamngon poured in 13 of her 15 in the second half on 6-of-7 shooting. Together they helped propel the Raiders (26-5 overall) to a semifinal matchup against third-seeded Eastern Oregon that will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday in Ashland.

"Most of the players on this team have experienced playoff intensity before and I think they were really excited and prepared for it tonight," SOU coach Carlotta Kloppenburg-Pruitt said. "The crowd was awesome and we fed off that energy on both ends. There's a lot of work left to do but this was a great first step."

The win made the Raiders 14-0 at home. All four home teams advanced in the tournament. Top-seeded Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), the regular season champion, will host fourth-seeded Bushnell in the other semifinal.

SOU raced out to a 10-0 lead against the Eagles (17-13) after back-to-back Walk 3-pointers 2 ½ minutes into the game. The Raiders never relinquished control, thanks in large part to their containment of forward Sam VanLoo.

VanLoo, a 6-foot-3 senior, had posted six straight double-doubles and averaged 21.9 points on 66-percent over NU's previous seven games. She managed just eight points on as many shot attempts against the Raiders, though she also amassed 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks.

Her teammates failed to pick up the slack, combining to shoot 16-of-54 from the field. The Eagles finished at an overall clip of 32 percent.

Syd'Nee Fryer gave the Raiders another spark with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Kalei Iwami scored nine and Danasia Allison had seven to lead a bench unit that contributed 25 points.

Walk scored 14 of her points in the first half, pushing the Raiders into the locker room with a 35-27 lead. They extended it to 18 points by the end of the third, where Phiakhamngon did the bulk of her damage.

The Raiders have advanced to the semifinals eight of their last nine seasons.

They split the regular season series with Eastern Oregon, winning 55-47 in Ashland and losing 68-65 in La Grande. The Mountaineers - who tied SOU for second place in the standings - stayed alive with a 70-61 win over Warner Pacific.