Story by: Josh McDermott, SOU Sports Information Director
ASHLAND - Southern Oregon needed a win to keep its season alive and acted like it in the quarterfinal round of the Cascade Conference Tournament presented by U.S. Bank on Wednesday night at Mountain Avenue Gym.
In a rematch with No. 5 seed Eastern Oregon - the team that defeated them in Saturday's final game of the regular season - the fourth-seeded Raiders took a seven-point lead to halftime and ambushed the Mountaineers in the second for a 97-73 win. SOU led by as many as 30 points and shot 21-of-34 from the field in the half, settling in at 58 percent for the game with all five starters in double figures.
Junior point guard Tristen Holmes totaled 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals, and senior guard Ben DeSaulnier hit all three of his second-half attempts from 3 to finish with 15 points. With his second bucket of the night, DeSaulnier also became the second Raider ever to join the team's 2,000-point club.
The Raiders (20-11 overall) - who hit the 20-win mark for the fifth time in the last six seasons - advanced to play at No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked College of Idaho in Saturday's semifinal round, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. Mountain Time. Warner Pacific, the No. 2 seed, hosts third-seeded Oregon Tech in the other semifinal.
The Mountaineers wrapped their season at 21-8 overall. Outside of sophomore guard Max McCullough's 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting, their highlights were sparse.
After SOU scored the first six points of the second half, McCullough's 3 cut the lead to 47-35 with 16:35 left.
The Raiders then made their move with three straight 3-pointers in the span of a minute: DeSaulnier hit back-to-back and Kenny Meyer added the third in transition. SOU's run was 16-2 and the lead 63-37 by the time Meyer capped it on a wide-open layup via DeSaulnier's assist with 13:28 left.
Meyer finished with 13 points and seven assists, also picking up his 100th steal in the last home game of his four-year SOU career. In the frontcourt, Jordan Hunt added 14 points and nine rebounds and Tate Hoffman had 13 points and six boards.
Josh Washington (8 points), Matt Boudreaux (6 points, 5 rebounds) and Conor Carroll (5 points, 4 assists) combined to shoot 9-of-14 off the bench.
EOU's loss was its eighth straight in Ashland.
The winner of Saturday's game will meet in the CCC championship Tuesday for an automatic berth in the NAIA Division II National Tournament.