Southern Oregon was scratching and clawing its way back into a heated Cascade Conference battle against No. 2-ranked Eastern Oregon when a Raiders assistant coach got the attention of SOU guard Kyle Tedder.
"Hey (Tedder)," he shouted, "be a complete player."
When it mattered most, Tedder was.
Tedder scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, including a key driving layup with 16 seconds left as 12th-ranked Southern Oregon came back from an eight-point second half deficit to hand the Mountaineers their first loss of the season, 72-68, Friday at Bob Riehm Arena.
"One of the things about us is if we're in the game in the last seven minutes, we really start to click," said SOU sophomore forward Eric Thompson, who had 15 points and five rebounds. "So for us, once we were in the game late, we kind of know if we just trusted each other we were going to finish it."
SOU junior center David Sturner added 14 points and five rebounds, and senior forward Terriel Thomas had a key steal late as the Raiders (10-3, 3-0 Cascade) passed their first major conference test.
Eastern Oregon (14-1, 2-1) was led by Trent Roos' 20 points. Anthony Brown added 14 and eight rebounds and Cody Thurmond 15 points, including 13 in the second half.
After a physical, sloppy first half that included a combined 18 turnovers and plenty of poor shooting, the Mountaineers took a 25-24 lead into the break, then increased it to eight points, 41-33, on a pair of Thurmond free throws with 14 minutes to go.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Tedder cut the deficit to four, and the Raiders reclaimed the lead, 44-43, when Thompson nailed a 3 with 9:41 to go.
The teams swapped the lead four times and were tied five times over the last six minutes before the Raiders took the lead for good when Dex Daum tipped in Thompson's miss to put SOU ahead 67-65 with 58 seconds to go.
Eastern tried to go inside on its next possession, but Thomas stepped in front of Roos' entry pass to Brown. Moments later, Tedder made the Mounties pay, running the shot clock down to about five seconds before slicing his way to the hoop for the game-breaking layup. Sturner screened Roos at the top of the key, and Tedder only had the 6-foot-5 Brown to beat.
"Coach (Brian McDermott) told me to sit there, and I knew that (Sturner) was going to come set me a pick," Tedder said, "and as soon as they switched I knew that their big man wasn't going to be able to guard me. So I just showed and go'd. I thought I left it short, but then I saw it roll in and I knew we had it."
McDermott, who is nine victories away from becoming SOU's all-time leader in coaching wins, said after Eastern held Southern to 32 percent shooting in the first half the Raiders made it a priority to get Tedder involved.
"We needed that lift because we weren't doing that much offensively," McDermott said of Tedder, who hit 7 of 10 shots, including 4 of 6 from long range. "And it wasn't (Tedder's) fault in the first half. Our wings didn't touch the ball very much — it was our point guard and our two posts, and we didn't get the ball moving well enough. So in the second half we moved it better and we talked about it at halftime, that we have to get our wings involved and we have to do some things for (Tedder)."
The Mountaineers cut the lead to two again on an uncontested layup by Roos with 11.5 seconds to go, but Tedder hit 1 of 2 free throws on SOU's next possession and Jeff Bush, who dished out 10 assists, fouled Roos before he could attempt a game-tying 3 with 3.6 seconds on the clock. Roos made the first and missed the second, and Tedder ran down the rebound after a scramble for the ball.
After his team's most important win of the season, McDermott said the win showed him "that we're going to be a really good basketball team. I think (the Mountaineers) are, too. They're really good. So it's kind of what we thought.
"We thought that we had a chance to be in that top three to four in our league, and that's where we're at right now."