The Southern Oregon University women’s basketball will close the regular season at Lithia Motors Pavilion this weekend and can lock down a home playoff date if all goes according to plan.
After losing three in a row on the road, the Raiders (16-8 overall, 12-6 Cascade Conference) will return to a home court that has treated them well: They’ve gone 9-1 at LMP with an average margin of victory of 19 points. A win Friday against College of Idaho (14-12, 10-8) would guarantee a top-four seed and a quarterfinal home game in next week’s CCC Championships presented by U.S. Bank, and a win Saturday against ninth-ranked Eastern Oregon (24-2, 18-0) would stop the Mountaineers from running the conference table for the second year in a row. Both games tip off at 5:30 p.m.
SCENARIOS: Heading into the weekend, SOU is two games up on College of Idaho in fourth place, meaning one Raider win, or a C of I loss at Oregon Tech, would keep the Yotes from moving up. Corban and OIT are tied in second place with 14-4 records, and Corban is unlikely to budge considering its two remaining games are against 10th-place Walla Walla. If OIT were to lose twice and SOU pulled off a weekend sweep, the Raiders would have the tiebreaker and the No. 3 seed.
COMING UP: The CCC Tournament begins Tuesday with the quarterfinal round. If the Raiders host, they’ll do so at 7 p.m. The two highest remaining seeds will host the semifinals on Feb. 22, and the championship is set for Feb. 25. The CCC’s second automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament will be awarded to the conference tournament champion; if the champion is EOU, it’ll go to the tourney’s other finalist.
LAST WEEK IN REVIEW: The Raiders’ comeback efforts fell short on back-to-back nights last Friday and Saturday as they fell 73-66 at Corban and 75-69 at Northwest Christian. In Friday’s game, they trimmed a 15-point deficit to five midway through the fourth quarter. In Saturday’s, the Beacons scored the last eight points of the game after SOU had erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead with 2:45 to go. Syd Fryer averaged 15 points and 6.5 rebounds on the trip, going for five steals at Corban and six assists at NCU.
On Saturday night the Raiders will recognize their only two seniors on the rosters, starting forwards Ariel Augustine and Destinee Jones. Both joined the team as transfers last season and have had to do it all inside this year after the other two posts who were projected to be in the rotation were sidelined by injury for the season before it even began. In conference play, Augustine is the CCC’s eighth-leading scorer (14.1 points), and she’s totaled 730 points and 304 rebounds in her Raider career. Jones, along with raising her scoring average by five points to 8.7 this season, ranks second in the CCC in steals (2.6), seventh in rebounds (6.8) and 15th in field-goal percentage (44.4).
The Raiders have the seventh-best field-goal percentage in the conference (39.0), but they’re scoring the second-most points (72.9) because they’re leading the CCC in turnover margin for the second year in a row (plus-6.3) and offensive rebounds for the second straight season (16.1).
SOU has hit 172 3-pointers in conference play, second only to EOU’s 185. The Raiders have made at least 10 in nine of their last 12 games; in their first 12, they made at least 10 three times.
Augustine (14.1), Daranda Hinkey (11.9) and Syd Fryer (11.8) are each among the league’s top-12 scorers. Hinkey also ranks third in 3-pointers per game (2.7), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9-to-1) and seventh in assists (3.4), while Fryer is fifth in steals (2.9) and sixth in rebounds (7.1).
The Raiders are 47-4 at home in Alex Carlson’s four seasons as head coach.
About College of Idaho
The Yotes have won three of their last four CCC games coming into the weekend. In their first matchup with SOU, on Dec. 1 as Caldwell, they trailed by as many as 34 points in a 67-57 loss. They’re 6-3 in CCC road games.
A senior backcourt of Alyssa Case (11.9 points, 7.7 rebounds) and Madison Holy (11.5 points, 42 3-pointers) leads the way. In their last outing, a 92-90 win over Warner Pacific, Holly scored a career-high 29 points.
SOU is 34-26 in the series and has won 13 in a row against the Yotes.
About Eastern Oregon
Since opening the season with losses to Cal Maritime and Simpson, the Mountaineers have won 24 straight. Dating back to 2016-17, they’ve won 48 consecutive conference games.
For the second year in a row, seniors guard Maya Ah You Dias is expected to be named the CCC Player of the Year. She leads the league in points (24.0) and 3-point makes (3.0) and ranks second in rebounds (9.1), and two weeks ago in a double-overtime win at Northwest, she scored a CCC-high 45. EOU’s strong backcourt also features Maren Herrud (13.1 points, 49% 3FG) and Madison Crews (5.5 assists).
SOU led the first matchup by four with five minutes to go in La Grande before falling 66-63. The Raiders have a 45-43 series edge but have lost the last six.