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SOU women upset LC State, win CCC tourney title

LEWISTON, Idaho — In a season defined by suffocating defensive performances, the Southern Oregon women’s basketball team saved its best — and, considering the stakes, one of the best in program history — for the title game of the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank.

The Raiders took the air out of the P1FCU Activity Center and turned an upset into a romp, dismantling 19th-ranked Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 56-34 on Monday night and leaving the top-seeded Warriors with their lowest point total in at least 20 years in the process.

The Warriors (27-4 overall) — who 10 days ago defeated SOU 60-55 on the same floor to clinch the CCC regular season championship — hadn’t scored fewer than 22 points in a half this year. They mustered just 13 in the first and 21 in the second against the second-seeded Raiders (28-5).

SOU snapped an LCSC winning streak that, not including Covid-19-induced forfeits, had reached 18 games. The Raiders also stopped the Warriors’ home winning streak at 19.

Having already clinched an automatic bid to the 64-team NAIA National Tournament, SOU will learn its destination for the March 11-12 Opening Round when the bracket is revealed Thursday.

Brianna Phiakhamngon scored 21 points with five 3-pointers and Kami Walk had 20 with nine rebounds to carry the offensive load for the Raiders, who celebrated their first CCC Tournament championship since 2016 and seventh overall. Dominique Harding dominated the glass with 13 boards and distributed seven assists.

The Raiders entered the matchup with the NAIA’s seventh-best defensive rating, shaped by a high-pressure approach that forces 21.5 turnovers per game. The Warriors committed just 13 turnovers — the lowest total for an SOU opponent this season — but had to settle for low-quality attempts all night and shot just 21 percent from the field.

LCSC sophomore guard Callie Stevens, who led the CCC in scoring and poured in 26 in a semifinal win over Bushnell, was limited to two points on 1-of-8 accuracy.

The Raiders took over early, claiming the lead for good when Phiakhamngon hit her first triple to make it 8-7 midway through the first quarter. After that bucket, they held the Warriors scoreless for nine straight minutes into the second quarter and took a 23-13 lead into halftime.

On three straight possessions in the third, Walk drilled two 3-pointers and Kalei Iwami added another to land the Raiders their largest lead at 38-20. LCSC scored seven straight to end the third before Phiakhamngon silenced any comeback murmurs in the fourth.

Phiakhamngon, a junior guard from Clackamas, scored 14 of her points in the final period by knocking down 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc. Her final tally was a season-high, and she became the first Raider this season to hit five 3s in a game.

Maddie Holm was the only Warrior to convert more than one field goal. She finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The win was SOU’s first-ever in five attempts in Lewiston.