Southern Oregon forced overtime and held a lead in the closing seconds, but No. 8 Northwest staved off the upset bid with a game-winning shot in the final second to knock off the Raiders 76-75 in Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s basketball action Friday night at Bob Riehm Arena.
The loss drops Southern Oregon’s record to 15-11 overall and 8-7 in conference play, while Northwest improves to 24-2 overall and 14-2 in the CCC. Both teams return to action tomorrow night, as the Raiders host Evergreen on Senior Night and Northwest travels to Klamath Falls to face No. 2 Oregon Tech.
Southern Oregon freshman Eric Thompson set a new program record for points by a freshman, passing Larry Kubes’ 32-year-old mark with his 507th point early in the second half.
Thompson led all scorers with 26 points and eight rebounds in the game. Jordan Highland finished with 22 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added six rebounds for the Raiders.
Rich Skillman finished with a team-high 25 points for Northwest, making nine of his 14 shot attempts in the game. Michael Green tallied 19 points, including the game-winner as time expired, and Tyler Mendezona added 11.
The first half featured five lead changes and three tie scores as neither team led by more than six points in the period. Northwest shot 61.9 percent from the field – including six of 11 from three-point range – to make up for 10 turnovers as the Eagles took a 37-31 halftime lead.
Scott Tiefenthaler hit a jumper to give the Raiders the first points of the game, but a pair of Ahmaad Cook threes helped Northwest respond with an eight-point run. Southern Oregon responded with an 8-1 run to take a brief 10-9 lead.
Northwest scored the next five points to earn a 14-10 advantage, but a Thompson layup sparked an 11-1 SOU run that gave the Raiders their largest lead of the game at 21-15 with 8:30 to play in the first half.
The Eagles outscored SOU 22-10 in the final eight minutes of the half to earn the six-point halftime advantage, highlighted by three Skillman free throws in the final seconds of the period after he was fouled while shooting a three-pointer.
The Raiders hung close throughout the second half, remaining within two possessions the entire period. Numerous times during that stretch SOU had the opportunity to tie the game, but Northwest clung to the slim lead.
A pair of Cook free throws with 2:37 to go put Northwest back up by six points at 66-60, but Thompson and Jeff Bush hit back-to-back shots for the Raiders to pull SOU within two. Following a Skillman free throw in the final minute, Highland pulled the Raiders within one on a layup.
The final-minute excitement continued as Greene gave NU a three-point advantage with two more free throws, but Tim Weber made a free throw with six seconds to play and Thompson rebounded Weber’s miss on the second shot and laid it up to tie the game at 69-69 and force overtime.
Southern Oregon picked up its first lead since the first half when Scott Tiefenthaler hit a jumper from the left side midway through the overtime period. Skillman came right back with a layup for Northwest to tie it up at 71-71 with 2:15 to play. Highland hit a layup a few seconds later to put SOU back up 73-71, but Greene tied it at 73 with a layup and gave the Eagles the one-point lead after converting a three-point play.
Highland passed ahead to Terriel Thompson, who passed back to Highland in the lane for the go-ahead layup in the final minute as the Raiders picked up the 75-74 lead. The Eagles had the ball with one second remaining when Greene took the inbounds pass from the baseline and touched it off the glass for the winning bucket as time expired.