Revenge was on the minds of the Southern Oregon men’s basketball team as they entered Wednesday’s CCC tournament quarterfinal matchup versus Corban, and revenge was served by way of a 71-68 victory. The win was a complete team effort, with 4 starters scoring in double-digits. It was the Raider “Big Three” who paved the way to victory; Ben DeSaulnier had 15 points, while Jordan West scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, and Joel Spear finished with 13 points-9 rebounds-5 assists. In all, 59% of SOU’s points came from the trio.
The victory didn’t come without drama though. With 40 seconds left on the clock, the Raiders clung to a 66-64 lead. As the shot clock winded down, Spear dribbled to his left and pulled up and swished a fallaway 3-pointer to make it 69-64 with 38.6 seconds left. After DeSaulnier’s free throw made it 71-68, Corban came down and launched a three–which barely rimmed out.
The win came at a crucial time, as the Raider men had dropped two straight following a seven-game win streak. “It was big on confidence,” said Jordan West, “Coming off two road losses is always hard. A big win, a big confidence win.” The two-game losing streak was the longest for the Raiders this season.
Looking ahead, this confidence will be key as they march deeper into postseason play. Southern Oregon faces off against Warner Pacific College (WPC) on Friday in the CCC semifinals, with the winner playing in Tuesday’s CCC championship game. The two previous games versus WPC have been absolute thrillers–both games have been decided by 2 points, each in favor of SOU. In the first game, the Raiders erased an 18-point deficit to win 92-90. The 18-point turnaround marks the largest comeback for Southern Oregon this season. In the second contest, it took all 40 minutes of action to decide the outcome as Ben DeSaulnier hit a running jumper as time expired to give the Raiders the 78-76 victory.
Even though SOU has defeated WPC twice already this season, you won’t find any cockiness lingering around the Raider locker room. “They run their stuff well. They play good zone defense … They always propose a bit of a problem,” said West. They do propose a problem: WPC averages 88.3 PPG (1st in the CCC), while also owning the third-ranked scoring defense (73.3 PPG). Yet, the Raiders have found a way to unlock that defense each time they faced one another. Will the third time be the charm for WPC, or will SOU come through again in the clutch?