A nationally-ranked rivalry matchup turned into a near blowout as the 23rd-ranked Southern Oregon men's basketball team upset No. 2 Oregon Tech 76-60 Tuesday night at Bob Riehm Arena.
Southern Oregon broke a six-game losing streak to the defending NAIA champion Owls and improved to 5-2 overall with the win. Oregon Tech fell to 6-2 with the loss. Both teams return to action on Friday at the annual Flagship Inn Classic at Bob Riehm Arena, with OIT taking on Lewis-Clark State at 5:30 p.m. and SOU following at 7:30 against New Hope Christian.
Eric Thompson led SOU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyle Tedder added 16 points and David Sturner tallied 12 points and eight boards. Jeff Bush filled the stat sheet with seven points, six rebounds and six assists. Southern Oregon shot 47.8 percent (22 of 46) for the game, including 57.1 percent (12 of 21) in the second half to put the game out of reach.
Recap: No. 23 Southern Oregon's Eric Thompson had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Raiders snapped a six-game losing streak to the defending national champion and second-ranked Owls.
Up next: New Hope Christian at Southern Oregon, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Josh Johnson led Oregon Tech with 20 points and six rebounds, and Josh Wiseman added 17 points in the loss. The Raiders limited the Owls to 34.8 percent shooting (23 of 66) to upset their archrivals.
"The biggest part was that we were really good defensively," SOU head coach Brian McDermott said. "We felt like Dex (Daum) did a great job on David Clarke and a combo of people did a great job on (Mihajlo) Matic, and that was kind of the key."
Oregon Tech scored the first points on a layup by Johnson, but the Owls' last lead of the game came less than a minute later when Matic hit a jumper to make it 4-3. Bush made a basket on the other end to put the Raiders up 5-4, and a few minutes later a 3-pointer by Joel Spear gave SOU a six-point advantage at 15-9.
The Owls hung close until late in the first half, as a Clarke 3-pointer made it 25-22 with 7:22 to play in the period. A pair of Thompson free throws sparked a seven-point SOU streak that gave the Raiders their first double-digit advantage of the game at the 4:35 mark, and SOU pushed that lead to 39-25 going into halftime.
"Offensively, we were much more patient than what we typically are the first time we play Tech," McDermott said. "We were very patient early on. When you're patient it leads to better shots and that usually leads to better results."
Johnson hit a layup and followed it up with a free throw to convert a three-point play early in the second half, but SOU scored the next nine points to go ahead by 20 with 15 minutes to play. From that point Oregon Tech slowly whittled the lead down to 13 with under a minute remaining, but SOU made 7 of 8 free throw attempts in the final 64 seconds to hold off any comeback hopes for the Owls.
The win marks the third straight for SOU as the Raiders as they have shot better than 47 percent in each of those contests to come away with double-digit victories. After some early struggles in the team's first four games, the recent improvement was on display for all in attendance on Tuesday as SOU handled the second-ranked team in the country. McDermott expects the team to only get better.
"In the last 10 days we've gotten quite a bit better, but we've still got a ways to go," McDermott said. "We've got a pretty big ceiling and we're nowhere near it. The scores take care of themselves if they do the right things."