The Southern Oregon men’s basketball team slowed down one of the hottest teams in the nation and last season’s NAIA runner-up Midland University, winning 73-71 to advance to the round of 16 teams of the NAIA tournament in Point Lookout, Missouri. With the upset victory, the Raiders move onto the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history and the second time in 3 seasons.
The Warriors ran out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, but the Raiders battled back and took their first lead at 11-10 on a Eric Thompson three-pointer with 13 minutes remaining in the half. The remainder of the first period was back and forth with Midland taking a 35-41 lead going into halftime.
Midland came out strong in the second half, taking their biggest lead at 44-56 with 12 minutes remaining. The Raiders then made a run of their own, outscoring their opponent 20-4 in a 7 minute sequence which gave SOU a 64-60 lead. This lead was quickly erased by Midland and it was soon tied at 67 with 2:47 remaining. SOU’s Tim Weber and Ben DeSaulnier each hit two free throws to take a 71-67 lead. Following a Galen Gullie basket with 44 seconds left to knot up the score, Jesse Jones stole a pass from Eric Thompson for an uncontested layup with 7 seconds remaining. Without taking a timeout, Tim Weber dribbled all the way down the floor and dished a pass to Jordan West for the game-winning layup as time expired.
According to the Raider athletic page, coach Brian McDermott said of the comeback, “We stayed in it and kept believing instead of going away from our stuff.”
The Raiders were lead by West’s 21 points and 5 rebounds on 9-17 shooting. Thompson and Weber contributed with 15 points apiece; Thompson also had 9 rebounds, Weber had 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
During the season, Midland has been lead by sophomore post player Alex Starkel’s 15.6 points on 58% shooting, but on Thursday, the Raiders held him to 6 points on 3-14 shooting. For the game, the Warriors were lead by Marcus Franklin’s 18 points, and Galen Gullie’s 15 points, 5 rebounds. Midland has had great inside-out scoring balance all season so keeping Starkel in check proved to be crucial.
With the Raider women winning Wednesday, both Raider basketball teams will move on to the NAIA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
The SOU men advance to play 24th ranked Grace Friday at 11:45am, and attempt to make their second Elite 8 in program history.
Coach McDermott added, “When we trust what we do, we’re pretty good. When we get away from what we do, we’re not so good. But with our personnel, we’re pretty hard to guard.”
Feature photo courtesy of Instagram: @souraiders