ASHLAND — Southern Oregon's senior backcourt of Toria Bradford and Remi Mejia took over Sunday's marquee matchup with No. 14 Northwest Christian, navigating the 10th-ranked Raiders to 77-59 win at Mountain Avenue Gym that assured them no worse than the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Cascade Conference Tournament.
Playing their final regular-season home games, Bradford and Mejia combined for 46 points and seven steals in the Raiders' fourth win against a nationally-ranked opponent this season. They bumped their record to 24-2 and 16-2 in the Cascade Conference, two games ahead of the Beacons (20-4, 13-4) with two to go and a tiebreaker in hand thanks to their sweep of the head-to-head series.
Bradford scored 16 of her 21 in the first half, pushing SOU to a 47-32 lead by the break, and finished with four assists and three steals. Mejia went 9-of-18 with five 3-pointers and scored 16 of her 25 in the second half. She knocked down three triples within the first four minutes of the third as the Raiders upped their advantage to 21 points.
The Beacons never got closer than 16 in the fourth and had their winning streak snapped at five games. SOU is the only team to hold them under 60 points this season, also doing so in the first matchup — a 66-54 decision on Jan. 12 in Eugene.
NCU, which was stymied at 34-percent shooting (16-of-47) with 21 turnovers, has lost eight consecutive games in Ashland.
The Raiders weren't much better at 37 percent (29-of-79) but committed just seven turnovers — their lowest total of the season — and posted a 22-13 edge on the offensive glass. Kenadee Honaker grabbed four offensive rebounds for seven total boards, and Ariel Augustine collected five (three offensive) to go with her 17 points.
Mejia has now scored 20-plus 10 times and Bradford three times this season. It was the second time they've both done it in the same game.
Mejia also finished the weekend with nine 3-point makes. She's hit at least three in 20 of SOU's last 21 games.
Freshman post Anamaria Virjoghe's 25 points and 10 rebounds led NCU. Niki Duncan and Kaylynn Bush scored nine apiece.
The Raiders finish the regular season next Friday and Saturday at College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The fourth-ranked Mountaineers maintain a two-game lead in first place.
SOUTHERN OREGON 92, NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN 86: At Ashland, sophomore forward Tate Hoffman's already-big week got even bigger in Southern Oregon's win against Northwest Christian.
Hoffman, the 6-foot-7 West Linn product, shot 10-of-15 for 23 points and seven rebounds as the Raiders (19-9, 13-5 Cascade Conference) hung on to complete a weekend sweep and move back into a second-place tie with Warner Pacific. Even more impressive, he was mostly responsible for holding NCU's Michael Loomis, the conference's top scorer, to a 4-of-13 display from the field.
Tristen Holmes added his fourth double-double of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while hitting eight of his nine field-goal attempts. Ben DeSaulnier had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists and crept within 22 points of 2,000 for his career.
SOU shot 55 percent from the field (36-of-66) and put its other two starters in double figures, too: Kenny Meyer had 14 points, five assists and five rebounds, and Jordan Hunt went for 12 points, five boards and four assists.
After going into halftime up three, the Raiders went on a 23-7 run early in the second, keyed by nine Hoffman points, to stretch their lead to 60-43. The Beacons (11-13, 7-10) chipped away as SOU went cold, cutting it to 75-73 with on a bucket with 3:33 left, but Holmes' deep 3 to beat the shot clock on the other end started a 9-2 Raider spurt that shut the door.
Loomis scored all 14 of his points in the second half, and NCU's Davonte Cleveland shot 9-of-10 with 26 points.
Hoffman's performance came on the heels of Tuesday's win at New Hope Christian, where he posted a career-high 24 points with 10 rebounds, and Saturday's win over Corban, in which he totaled 17 points and 16 boards, the highest rebound total for a Raider in over five years. For the week, he shot 65 percent from the field (26-of-40), including 10-of-19 from 3.
The Raiders close the regular season next Friday and Saturday at College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon, which they swept the first time through the conference schedule. They got some help Sunday in the form of Corban's upset at Oregon Tech, which dropped the Owls into a tie with Eastern Oregon and one game back of SOU and WPC.
RAIDERS SWEEP: At West Covina, Calif., sophomores Gabby Sandoval and Karlee Coughlin spun back-to-back four-hit shutouts and No. 3 Southern Oregon capped the NAIA SoCal Classic with two wins, 10-0 over Ottawa (Ariz.) in six innings and 8-0 over Marymount (Calif.) in five at the Big League Dreams complex.
In support of the sharp pitching, the Raiders (7-3) tallied 11 hits in both games, including five total from first baseman Tayler Walker. The freshman from Redding, Calif., went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and an RBI in the opener, and she went 2-for-3 with her first career home run in Game 2.
Harlee Donovan added her second homer of the season against Marymount (2-6) — hers and Walker's were both solo shots — while Paige Leeper slugged a pair of RBI singles and Hannah Wessel went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
SOU started the day against Ottawa (2-11) with a five-run first inning that included run-scoring hits from Donovan, Walker, Wessel and Rebecca Velasquez. Hannah Shimek contributed a pair of hits, one a two-run single in SOU's four-run fourth, and Velasquez finished with a run-scoring double and single.
Senior shortstop Kelsey Randall was on base five times, scored four runs and stole six bases on the day.
In the circle, Sandoval (3-2) had her second quality start in as many days with seven strikeouts and no walks, scattering singles only. Coughlin bounced back from Saturday's loss with four strikeouts and one walk, improving to 3-1.
The Raiders finished 4-2 at the Classic. They'll pick up next Saturday and Sunday in Redding with back-to-back games against Simpson (Calif.) and Menlo (Calif.) both days.