Southern Oregon women stay hot, trounce Northwest
Their traveling day stretched out thanks to a snowy winter storm, the Northwest Eagles didn't arrive at Bob Riehm Arena until an hour before tipoff.
Southern Oregon had no sympathy, burying the visitors under a mountain of turnovers and fastbreak layups for a crucial Cascade Conference women's basketball victory.
Kristen Schoenherr hit 9 of 11 shots on her way to a game-high 23 points, Brenna Anderson added 16 points and eight boards and the Raiders went on a 17-0 run early in the second half in a 95-64 rout.
"It was our intensity and our passion," Schoenherr said.
The win allowed Southern Oregon (20-6, 9-5 CCC) to leapfrog Northwest (16-9, 8-5) in the conference standings and force a three-way tie with Oregon Tech and College of Idaho for second place with four games to go. First-place Eastern Oregon has a two-game cushion following Friday's loss to C of I.
The top eight teams in the conference standings qualify for the league tournament, and the top four teams host first-round games.
SOU improved its chances of hosting a postseason game by putting together what head coach Lynn Kennedy called its most complete game of the season.
"They're a good team, but we executed well," said Kennedy, who has guided the Raiders to six wins in their last eight games. "Our defensive effort was there, we rebounded the ball really well tonight, which got us on our fast break. And we were able to set that tempo throughout the entire game. I didn't feel like there was any time when we were slowing it down. We kept the tempo, and it was really the second half when we made that push. At halftime, we knew if we kept the tempo up we could get a good run out."
Schoenherr hit 5 of 6 shots and scored 14 points in the first half to lead the Raiders to a 10-point lead at the break, 48-38. In the second half, Southern Oregon gave up a layup by Sanda Milovic then ran the visitors off the court over the next six minutes, extending a 48-40 lead to 65-40 on Carly Meister's layup with 14:44 to go.
Schoenherr had seven points during the surge, including a twisting left-handed bank and-one that made it 63-40, then later used a pretty spin move to beat a defender on her way to another layup and an 81-53 Raider lead.
The Raiders made the Eagles pay for their mistakes, too, scoring 19 points off Northwest's 21 turnovers.
"We just weren't ourselves tonight," said Northwest head coach Ken Crawford, who, in his first year, has helped the Eagles forget about last year's depressing 1-17 league finish. "We just have to figure things out a little bit. You've got to be able to reach down, you've got to be able to focus. We just didn't focus very well."
Southern Oregon also attacked the basket from beginning to end, finishing with 46 points in the paint. And when the Eagles did close the lanes, the Raiders burned them from outside. SOU was 7-for-15 from 3-point range.
Northwest, meanwhile, struggled against SOU's pressure defense, which extends baseline to baseline after made baskets and is designed to quicken the game's tempo. The Eagles could never get in a rhythm, hitting just 35 percent of their shots, including 30 percent (9-for-30) in the second half.
Jordan Asher and Domi Mendezona scored 12 points apiece to lead the Eagles, but those numbers represented a huge dip from the last meeting between the two teams Jan. 11 in Kirkland, Wash., where Asher and Mendezona combined for 54 points. This time, that duo hit a combined 6 of 15 shots and turned the ball over four times.
Asher was held scoreless in the second half.
"We were really focusing on the defensive side because (Mendezona) was a threat last game," Schoenherr said. "(Kennedy) said things that inspired us. It motivated us to shut (Asher) down because she was kind of taking control of the (first half)."
Asher and Kristen Frey also pulled down seven boards on Friday, but SOU won the battle of the boards 50-43.
"Last time we played them it was pretty close, but this time we came out and had a bunch of energy," Schoenherr said. "We pushed the ball and did everything we were really supposed to."
The first half hinted at a competitive game, with the Raiders jumping out to leads of 21-11 and 28-13 before Northwest rallied to get back within 28-24.
SOU answered with a 12-4 run and later took a 46-34 lead on Ashley Claussen's 3 with 2:22 to go.
The Eagles never got closer than eight points again.
"We talk all the time about playing our best ball at the end of the year and we're starting to do that now," Kennedy said. "I thought that was our best game of the year tonight and that was against a good team. We've been good all year, but now we can get to that next level and that's what we're trying to do. But we've got to play good defense and we've got to rebound. We did that tonight and you saw the results."