The Southern Oregon women’s basketball team came out hot in their NAIA Sweet 16 game against Tabor College, but Tabor fought back and ultimately ended the Raider’s season, winning 72-65.
In the first half, the Raiders scored the first 8 points, but lost their rhythm and let the Blue Jays of Tabor back into the game. The rest of the first half was relatively even, and ended in a 27-25 halftime Tabor lead.
Shortly after the second half started, Tabor went on a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 40-30. The Blue Jays eventually pushed the lead to 12, but the Raiders weren’t ready to quit and went on a run of their own. As a result of a 13-1 run, SOU took a 56-55 lead with 5:59 remaining in the game. Tabor made a few shots after SOU took the lead, and the Raiders couldn’t get the necessary defensive stops when they needed to in the final few minutes.
Junior forward Carly Meister, who led the Raiders with 16 points and rebounds, said of the game, “It really came down to our defense and intensity. After going up 8 we let them back when we should have put them away.”
For the game, Tabor was led by Taylor Hurd’s 21 points. Tena Lowen contributed with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Tonisha Dean chipped in with 14 points of her own. Tabor made 40% of their shots in the game.
The Raiders were lead by Meister, and senior’s Kristen Shoenherr and Alexi Smith helped out. Shoenherr’s final game in a Raider uniform saw her score 15 points, while Smith had 12 points and 6 rebounds. Ashley Claussen added 7 points and 5 rebounds and Autumn Durand had 6 points and 7 rebounds.
Despite a disappointing finish, the Raider season was all-in-all a success. They finished with a final record of 27-5, which is the third most wins in program history, and snapped a 16 year losing streak in the NAIA tournament by winning their first round game against Robert Morris.
Meister added of the season, “The best and probably the most fun I’ve had in the three years I’ve been here. Of course the national championship was the ultimate goal, but just making it to nationals and getting past the first round was a big accomplishment and I’m proud of how well our team did this year.”
Senior Alexi Smith, junior Ashley Claussen, and junior Carly Meister were voted onto the 12-person all-conference team, and senior Kristen Shoenherr was named an honorable mention. Meister and Shoenherr were also named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes, which is given to athletes with a minimum GPA of 3.5 and junior or senior academic status.
Of next season, Meister said, “We have some big shoes to fill.”