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No. 7 SOU football team to host No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan in first round of playoffs

As expected, the Southern Oregon University football team will get the chance to defend its NAIA title, and the Raiders' path starts next Saturday at home.

SOU (8-2 overall) — which ascended one spot to No. 7 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll — is penciled in to host 10th-ranked Kansas Wesleyan (10-1) in the first round of the NAIA Championship Series. All eight first-round games were announced Sunday by the national office.

Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Raider Stadium. Tickets go on sale at noon Monday and can be purchased at souraiders.com/tickets or at the Ivey Hall ticket office on the SOU campus. They'll cost $15 for reserved, $12 general admission, and $6 for seniors, faculty, staff and non-SOU students. Kids 12-and-under and SOU students will be admitted free, but season and staff passes will not be valid.

Following a 12-year drought without postseason festivities, this is the second straight year Raider Stadium will host a first-round game. SOU has advanced to the playoffs as an at-large team three of the last four years.

Kansas Wesleyan, a 129-year-old private school in Salina, Kan., with around 750 students currently enrolled, earned the fourth of six at-large bids out of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Coyotes lost 14-7 to and took second place behind eighth-ranked Tabor (Kan.), which was the only ranked opponent they played all year.

They've dropped eight straight against ranked opponents dating back to the 2013 season. Their only previous postseason appearances occured in 2001 and '02, and they lost in the first round both years. They went 2-9 in 2014, but will come in winners of four straight by an average margin of 25 points.

KWU averages the fourth-most yards of offense in the NAIA (518.4), including 328.9 per game through the air. Senior quarterback Jake Curran has tossed 28 TD passes and 10 interceptions this season.

SOU is 5-0 all-time in the first round, and in 2014 came in as the No. 8 team with a 44-26 victory over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.). Until last year, the Raiders had never made it past the second round.

Seven teams are back from last year's field, including SOU's semifinal (Saint Xavier (Ill.)) and championship (Marian (Ind.)) opponents. Morningside (Iowa), the top overall seed, is making its 12th straight appearance.

Since 1997, home teams are 112-32 in the first round. They went 8-0 last year.

2015 NAIA Football Championship Series

First Round Schedule

Saturday, Nov. 21 | Campus Sites

Game 1 - Saint Xavier (Ill.) (7-3) at Morningside (Iowa) (10-1)

Game 2 - Point (Ga.) (8-2) at Baker (Kan.) (10-1)

Game 3 - Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (8-2) at Grand View (Iowa) (10-1)

Game 4 - Reinhardt (Ga.) (9-1) at Saint Francis (Ind.) (9-0)

Game 5 - Dickinson State (N.D.) (8-2) at Montana Tech (9-1)

Game 6 - Campbellsville (Ky.) (8-2) at Marian (Ind.) (8-2)

Game 7 - Kansas Wesleyan (10-1) at Southern Oregon (8-2)

Game 8 - Doane (Neb.) (9-1) at Tabor (Kan.) (10-1)

Women's Basketball

Ashley Claussen scored 21 points and a handful of other Raiders compiled career-best numbers Sunday afternoon as the 16th-ranked Southern Oregon women's basketball team sped past Pacific Union at Riehm Arena, 89-61.

Playing their first counter in two weeks following two exhibitions, the Raiders improved to 3-0 overall behind Claussen's 8-of-13 shooting, four 3-pointers, four assists and three steals.

While Claussen's performance was on par with her season averages, Tiani Bradford had career-highs of 15 points and eight rebounds, Majerle Reeves scored a career-high 16 points, and Kristin Smeaton pulled down a career-high 10 boards.

Twenty-four of SOU's 34 buckets were assisted; Demi Sahlinger, Toria Bradford, Autumn Durand and Claussen had four apiece. Durand also chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.

The Raiders shot 21-of-40 in the first half to build a 51-27 lead and were up by as many as 37 points (87-50) after Smeaton's 3-pointer halfway through the fourth quarter. They ended up at 41 percent from the field (32-of-78) and took more than half their attempts from 3-point range (13-of-41).

The Pioneers (0-4) were led by three players in double figures: Alexis Lyers (16), Jade Mena (15 points, 9 rebounds) and Kaelea Alonzo (12). Jenna Pena also had six points, six assists and 14 boards.

SOU created separation on the boards — the Raiders maintained advantages of 52-43 in rebounds on 20-9 in second-chance points — and in transition, where they outscored the Pioneers 28-8.

SOU has won all 13 meetings in the series with PUC.

The Raiders play next Friday and Saturday in Klamath Falls against Cal Maritime and William Jessup. Both games tip off at 1 p.m.