No. 3 Yotes, Mountaineers visit Raiders


    By Larry Stauth Jr./For the Mail TribuneSouthern Oregon University senior Tristen Holmes shoots Tuesday at Lithia Motors Pavilion.

    One of the deeper Cascade Conference men’s basketball fields in recent history has been nothing if not unpredictable. With one weekend left in the regular season, Southern Oregon hopes it has some surprises left.

    At 18-9 overall and 8-8 in the CCC, it’s likely that the Raiders’ only path to the NAIA Division II Tournament is through winning the conference tournament that starts next Wednesday: They can still finish as high as a fourth-place tie but can do no better than the No. 5 seed. Coming off a win at 25th-ranked Northwest Christian, they’ll try to play spoiler again tonight against third-ranked College of Idaho (25-3, 14-2), which has a one-game lead on Oregon Tech in first place. On Saturday they’ll get a shot at Eastern Oregon (14-13, 9-7), the team directly ahead of them in the standings, in a game that could have seeding implications.

    COMING UP: The eight-team CCC Championships presented by U.S. Bank start with Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The semifinals, hosted by the two highest-remaining seeds, are set for Feb. 23 and the title game will be held Feb. 26. Because they won’t have a top-four seed, the Raiders will start on the road. The tourney is not bracketed, meaning the highest remaining seed will be matched up with the lowest remaining seed in the semis.

    LAST WEEK IN REVIEW: In a conference season full of tough finishes, the Raiders suffered through one of the most demoralizing losses in team history last Friday at Corban, where the Warriors hit buzzer-beating, game-tying 3-pointers at the end of both regulation and the first overtime session to eventually win 94-92 in double-OT. Teron Bradford (22 points) and Tristen Holmes (20) played nearly the whole game, but they turned around to lead the Raiders to an impressive 87-76 rebound win the next night at No. 25 Northwest Christian, combining for 33 points. The Raiders shot 55 percent in the game and led by as many as 19 points, earning their first win on the Beacons’ home court since 2012-13.

    Briefly

    The Raiders have been within five points in the last five minutes of all eight of their CCC losses.

    During SOU’s last homestand, Jordan Hunt became the 22nd player to join SOU’s 1,000-point club. He’s up to 1,052 points and 554 rebounds, and last weekend notched his fifth double-double of the season. Tate Hoffman, SOU’s other junior forward, also has five double-doubles.

    Tristen Holmes is up to No. 12 on the Raiders’ all-time scoring list (1,334) and third on the assists list (429). With 552 total rebounds, he’s SOU’s first-ever player to exceed 1,000-500-400 in a career.

    The Raiders enter the weekend sixth in CCC field-goal percentage (44.7). If they finish outside of the top-three, it’ll be the first time since the 2011-12 season.

    Tule O’Rourke, one of three Raider seniors who will be recognized on Saturday, earned his first career starts last weekend and totaled 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

    The Raiders have hit the 100-point mark seven times, including five times at home. They’d done so seven times in the previous four years combined.

    About College of Idaho

    The Yotes have won 11 of their last 12 games, the only slip-up in that span being an 85-83, last-second home loss to Corban. They’re leading the CCC in both opponents’ scoring (69.4) and opponents’ field-goal percentage (41.8) for the third year in a row.

    Five Yotes are averaging between 9.3 and 12.5 points per game, led by junior wing Nate Bruneel. Junior point guard Talon Pinckney is posting 11.3 points, 5.0 assists and 2.7 steals.

    SOU lost the first matchup, 72-69 on Dec. 1 in Caldwell, and had two chances to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes. C of I leads the all-time series, 53-24, but SOU has won three of the last four in Ashland.

    About Eastern Oregon

    The Mountaineers are coming off a wild weekend in La Grande, where they came back from 18 points down to beat Warner Pacific at the buzzer, 77-74, and the next night dropped a 112-105 shootout against Multnomah.

    They feature one of the most dangerous scorers in the CCC, sophomore Jordan May, who dropped 34 points on 7-of-12 shooting from deep in the first matchup with SOU. He’s averaging 19.4 per game in conference play, while guard Landon Jones adds 12.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.

    EOU topped SOU 83-77 on Nov. 30 behind May’s 35 and Jones’ 22. The Raiders are 103-86 in the series and have won eight consecutive matchups in Ashland.

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