Women Look For First Tournament Appearance Since 2009
Michael Brock, Staff Writer
The Oregon Institute of Technology women’s basketball team won when they most needed to and in the process ended Southern Oregon University’s 17 game home winning streak. OIT overcame a 12 point deficit in the second half to complete the 77-74 upset in the Cascade Conference semifinals.
The first half of the game saw the Raiders run out to a 27-16 lead, however OIT battled back and had a 1-point (37-36) deficit going into halftime. SOU’s Carly Meister and Courtney West combined for 24 points in the first half, 10 and 14 respectively and Megan Whetstone led the OIT attack with 17 points.
With the game tied at 50, Alexi Smith scored 8 straight points, capped off by a triple-teamed fade-away jumpshot and it looked like the Raiders may run away with it. They pushed the lead to 11, but Megan Whetstone and Karly Leveque led the Owls back and the Raiders couldn’t executer in the final few possessions of the game. OIT was lead by Karly Leveque’s 20 points (16 in the second half) and Megan Whetstone’s 26. Courtney West, Carly Meister, and Alexi Smith scored the bulk of the points for the Raiders with 16, 16, and 15 points. Coach Lynn Kennedy said of the game, “We didn’t execute, we didn’t play good defense. And they were better than us, so that’s what it came down to. We didn’t play our game. We have’t played that way in two and a half months.”
OIT shot 43.8% snapping a streak of 9 straight SOU opponents shooting under 36%. Prior to the game, the Raiders last 9 home games were won by an average of 26.1 points.
OIT took the game from the Raiders and also beat Eastern Oregon in the conference championship game Monday night to secure an automatic bid to the 32-team NAIA tournament. Regardless of Friday’s loss and OIT winning the conference championship, the Raider women are nearly a lock for an at-large bid to their first NAIA tournament since 2009.
As far as the NAIA tournament is concerned, Kennedy said, “Hopefully this will be a wake up call for us.”