EUGENE -- For a Southern Oregon team that has grown accustomed to worst-case scenarios playing out in the final minutes, Tuesday's outcome at the Morse Event Center felt almost as miraculous as the one it avoided.
The Raiders still have a pulse after escaping with a 78-77 upset of third-seeded Northwest Christian in the quarterfinal round of the Cascade Conference Championships. Seeded sixth, they watched as Tyrus Hosley's desperation attempt from 35 feet out bounced off the backboard as time expired, sending them to fourth-seeded Corban for Saturday's semifinals.
Tristen Holmes went for 19 points, nine rebounds and two steals to lead the Raiders (20-11), who clinched their sixth 20-win record in seven seasons. He totaled 10 of those, including a pair of 3-pointers, while sparking a 20-3 run that put SOU up 63-49 with 13 minutes left.
The Raiders led 78-70 in the final minute before dodging their third last-second loss in the last two weeks. After NCU's Austin Tyner was fouled shooting a 3-pointer, he made two free-throw attempts and his miss on the third went back to the Beacons. Reece Robinson then hit a 3-pointer, and SOU threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, leading to another foul and two more Tyner free throws.
Their lead down to one point, the Raiders inbounded to Aaron Borich, who missed the front end of a one-and-one with five seconds left. Hosley rebounded dribbled the length of the floor but couldn't complete the comeback.
The Raiders hadn't gotten a win on NCU's floor in six years before stealing two in the last two weeks.
Teron Bradford contributed 12 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Tate Hoffman had 13 points and five rebounds off the bench, and Tez Allen added 10 points and six boards.
They took NCU's best shot in first 10 minutes as they fell behind 30-17. Allen and Hoffman helped them climb back in it - they combined for 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the half - and trimmed NCU's lead to 44-43 by halftime.
Before the late mess unfolded, Borich made four consecutive free throws down the stretch to extend the Raider lead. They were up 71-70 when he was fouled going to the rim; after the whistle, a technical foul was issued to Tyner for NCU's second delay of game. Four free throws stretched the lead back to four points, and Holmes came up with a block on the other end.
Ernest Ogoagu led NCU with 20 points and Hosley scored 14. The Raiders shut down Tyner, the team's leading scorer, on 1-of-8 shooting.
Corban eliminated Eastern Oregon in its quarterfinal game. The other semifinal will feature Northwest (Wash.), which knocked off top-seeded Oregon Tech, and College of Idaho, which defeated Warner Pacific.
The winners will play in Tuesday's championship game for a spot in the NAIA Division II National Tournament.