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SOU senior Ben DeSaulnier on the brink of joining 2,000-point club

ASHLAND — Consistency is something that every athlete strives for no matter the sport. For Southern Oregon senior guard Ben DeSaulnier, it only seems like consistency has just come right along with him like it's attached to his hip.

At this point, you might as well spell "consistency" this way: D-E-S-A-U-L-N-I-E-R.

"Ever since I came in, that's been my goal. I like to play efficient. I don't take a ton of shots but I like to get to the free throw line, that sort of thing," DeSaulnier said. "Just being consistent is big, and that's probably the main thing in the transition from high school to college. It's the talent level and everybody can play at a high level and that's what separates the mediocre guys from the better guys is just how consistent they can be night-in and night-out."

It's safe to say that being ultra-consistent has allowed DeSaulnier to rise even further into the SOU record books.

Entering this weekend's games against Corban University and Northwest Christian, DeSaulnier stands tall as the No. 2 all-time scorer in school history, only trailing Eric Thompson's 2,465 career points. Sitting on 1,940 career points, DeSaulnier would need to have a monster weekend to become just the second player in SOU history to hit the 2,000-point mark in front of the hometown crowd in Ashland.

To get there, the 6-foot-3 Philomath native has been as steady as steady can be.

As a sophomore, he averaged 18.3 points per game.

As a junior, he averaged 17.8 points per game.

And this season, as a senior, he's averaging 16.8 points per game.

In each of the last three seasons, he's shot at least 51 percent from the field.

As much as joining the 2K club is a milestone he'd love to have, it's not like he will suddenly change his approach and start jacking up shots.

"It crosses your mind, but in the moment, all that really matters is winning. And if you're not winning, all that stuff doesn't feel as good," said DeSaulnier, who has also been an Academic All-Cascade Conference selection the last two years. "That's really been my concentration is trying to figure out how we can finish off this season as strong as we can. ... All of those other accolades, it's just like a cherry on top for me. You kind of pay attention to that kind of stuff on the side, but in the moment, all that matters is winning."

Being one of the Raiders' go-to guys has been something that DeSaulnier has truly come to embrace as his collegiate career has gone on.

But it wasn't always that way.

He admittedly "was just trying to fit in" when he first came to Ashland in 2014. "At first I just wanted to contribute any way I could knowing that we already had Tim Weber and Eric Thompson, two really great players as seniors. I kind of felt like my role was to contribute and help where I could," he added.

DeSaulnier was quick to point to the faith that longtime Raiders head coach Brian McDermott had in during a rough start to his collegiate career, proving to be one of the biggest motivators for a young player who wasn't playing up to his personal standards.

That freshman season, one where DeSaulnier started 20 of SOU's 36 games, proved to be the foundation for what has turned into quite the successful college career.

"The fact that (McDermott) just continued to give me opportunities, he knew what I was capable of. He told me to keep shooting and keep shooting," DeSaulnier said. "As a young guy coming in, that's what you need in a coach. As a freshman, he was one of the guys who kept me going and pushed to the position where I am now."

No matter what personal achievements may be on deck for DeSaulnier, it has always come back to where the Raiders stand as a team.

With three more wins, SOU will clinch its third 20-win season since DeSaulnier arrived on campus.

And to wrap up his career the same way it started with a run in the NAIA Division II National Tournament, that would be as just as much of a cherry on top as getting to 2,000 career points.

"It would be pretty amazing with Kenny (Meyer) and I as seniors to get back there," DeSaulnier said. "We just want to make a run. That's the best time of the year is in March when you're making a deep run. That's the goal for all of us."

Danny Penza is the sports editor for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-776-4483 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.