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SOU women to open NAIA tourney in SoCal

ASHLAND — The Southern Oregon University women’s basketball team will open the NAIA National Tournament on the West Coast, meeting Georgetown (Ky.) for a Round of 64 matchup at 5:30 p.m. next Friday at the MacArthur Center in Santa Clarita, Calif.

The Raiders (28-5 overall), fresh off a Cascade Conference Tournament title, learned their destination when the field was announced Thursday by the national office. They’re the No. 10 seed in the Cramer Quadrant of the 64-team bracket, while Georgetown (22-11) received an at-large bid and a No. 7 seed out of the Mid-South Conference.

The first two rounds of the tournament will take place at 16 campus sites around the country. The last 16 teams standing will advance to play at the final site in Sioux City, Iowa, from March 17-22.

If the Raiders defeat Georgetown, they’ll play at 7 p.m. Saturday against the winner of a Round of 64 game between seventh-ranked and No. 2-seeded host The Master’s (Calif.) (29-3) and No. 15-seeded UC Merced (18-7). Game times have yet to be announced.

SOU is making its 13th national tournament appearance and sixth in the last seven seasons. Each of the Raiders’ last 12 appearances were in the Division II National Tournament, but starting last year the NAIA went to a single 237-team division and expanded the postseason field.

After finishing second in the conference regular season standings with an 18-4 record, the Raiders earned an automatic bid through their CCC Tournament run. The CCC is also represented in the field by regular season champion Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), which the Raiders routed 56-34 in the title game, and at-large squad Eastern Oregon.

Georgetown, formerly of the NAIA Div. I, is making its first tournament appearance since 2019 and seeking its first tourney win in nine years. The Tigers placed fourth in the Mid-South with a 13-9 record and earned their at-large bid after advancing to the MSC Tournament championship game, where they pushed fifth-ranked Campbellsville (Ky.) in a 70-68 loss.

The Master’s defeated second-ranked Westmont (Calif.), the defending national champion, to win the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament title. The Mustangs finished a game behind Westmont in the GSAC regular season with a 15-3 record.

UC Merced reserved its spot by capturing the California Pacific Conference Tournament championship. After an up-and-down preseason showing, the Bobcats ran the table in conference play with a 10-0 record.