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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

No. 5 seed Raiders visit Warner Pacific tonight

Southern Oregon is looking for its first win over the Knights this season
 Posted: 2:00 AM February 19, 2013

Southern Oregon faces a quick turnaround this week, as the Raiders head to Portland for a Cascade Collegiate Conference Women's Basketball Tournament matchup with Warner Pacific at 7 tonight.

Southern Oregon closed out the regular season last weekend with a pair of home wins over Corban and Northwest Christian, clinching the fifth seed in the tournament for the Raiders with a 10-8 record, 21-9 overall.

Warner Pacific lost its last three games of the regular season but held on to the fourth seed to earn the final hosting nod in the tournament first round with an 11-7 record, 16-12 overall.

"It should be a competitive game," SOU head coach Lynn Kennedy said.

The Raiders closed out the regular season with six wins in their last seven games to bounce back from a three-game midseason swoon.

Tonight's game will give SOU a third chance to defeat Warner Pacific after the Knights swept the regular-season series with a pair of close wins. Warner Pacific defeated SOU 83-77 in Portland on Dec. 22 and picked up an 85-80 win in Ashland on Jan. 25.

Southern Oregon finished the conference season as the highest scoring team in the CCC. The Raiders averaged 78.1 points per game while ranking first in the league in rebounding (45.2 per game) and rebounding margin (plus 4.3) and second in shooting percentage (.442) and steals (9.9).

Melissa Sweat ranked second in the conference in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game. Her 572 points are the fifth-highest season total in program history, and a 28-point game on Tuesday would make her only the fourth player in SOU history to reach 600 points in a season.

Alexi Smith ranked fourth in the conference in scoring (16.2) and shooting percentage (.504), while ranking seventh in rebounding (7.9). Allison Gida, of Ashland, averaged 12.6 points per contest to rank 15th, and Ashley Claussen led the conference in free throw shooting at 89.7 percent.

Southern Oregon is 26-16 all-time against Warner Pacific, but the Knights have won the last five games in the series. The Raiders will also be looking for their first CCC Tournament win since 2010, when SOU traveled to Portland and upset third-seeded Warner Pacific 68-55.

Warner Pacific focuses on the balance between offense and defense, ranking fifth in the conference in both scoring (65.5) and scoring defense (64.7). The Knights ranked third in the CCC in shooting percentage (.422) and 3-point percentage (.332), and they led the league from the free throw line (.747).

While the Knights do not grab many rebounds — they rank ninth in the league averaging 36.5 — they don't allow many rebounds by their opponents either (second, 37.2).

Chelsey Christensen finished the regular season as the top scorer in the conference (20.4 points per game) and added 6.8 rebounds. Tori Carroll averaged 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds to rank among league leaders in both categories. Both are excellent shooters as well, with Carroll ranking third in the CCC (.508) and Christensen ranking fifth (.504), with Christensen also ranking third from 3-point range (.425) and at the free throw line (.868).

Nichole Jackson was the most efficient point guard in the league this season, ranking first in both assists per game (8.8) and assist/turnover ratio (2.2).

"They're a complete team," Kennedy said. "Their guards on the outside can shoot 3s, they can drive, they can attack, so they've got really good balance."

The winner advances to Friday's CCC semifinals with matchups to be determined.


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