Story originally by: Josh McDermott, SOU Sports Information Director
LA GRANDE – Southern Oregon's defense succeeded in turning the championship game of the Cascade Conference Tournament presented by U.S. Bank into a slugfest against Eastern Oregon, the top 3-point shooting team in the country. Its offense, however, was not quite up to the task.
In a 63-52 loss Monday night at Quinn Coliseum, No. 11 SOU (27-4 overall) couldn't keep pace when the No. 6 Mountaineers (30-2) finally broke through in the fourth quarter and outscored the Raiders by a 23-11 margin. Point guard Maya Ah You-Dias scored nine of her 13 and forward Mariah Swanson had six of her 16 in the period, allowing EOU to complete its perfect run through the conference's regular season and tourney slates.
Both teams had already clinched spots in the NAIA Division II National Tournament before the game, which was a rematch of last year's title tilt in Ashland. The 32-team bracket will be revealed Wednesday and the tournament will take place March 7-13 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Toria Bradford recorded 14 points and three assists for the Raiders, and her 4-of-6 performance that included a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter helped them jump out to a 22-12 lead. But after going 9-of-21 from the field and 4-of-7 from 3 in the first – during which Kenadee Honaker also knocked down two triples – they shot 24 percent overall (11-of-46) and 2-of-13 from 3 the rest of the way.
EOU finished with its lowest point total against a CCC team this year and shot just 36 percent, going 4-of-19 from 3 – seven makes below its season average.
But the Mountaineers kept SOU scoreless for the first six minutes of the third and started a game-swinging run when Reece Bauer found Swanson inside for a wide-open layup at the end of the quarter, cutting the deficit to 41-40. They extended the run to 9-0 at the start of the fourth, when Jessica Sexson opened with a jumper and Ah You-Dias followed with a 3 and a putback.
Seconds after an Ah You-Dias layup made it 53-47 with 4:49 left, SOU leading scorer Remi Mejia was whistled for her fifth foul. Mejia was held to seven points but contributed seven rebounds (four on the offensive glass) and three steals.
Ariel Augustine had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Honaker finished with eight points and six rebounds.Bryanna Raff was solid, too, in her 13 minutes off the bench, chipping in four points and seven rebounds.