Through all the summer pick-up games, all the hours in the weight room and on the practice court, and even through a disappointing nonconference schedule, Jarrad Childs knew a night like this was bound to come eventually.
Through all the summer pick-up games, all the hours in the weight room and on the practice court, and even through a disappointing non-conference schedule, Jarrad Childs knew a night like this was bound to come eventually.
The junior guard from Paso Robles, Calif., scored a season-high 36 points, dominating the game from start to finish, as the Southern Oregon men's basketball team built a 21-point lead and held on for an 82-77 upset of fifth-ranked Eastern Oregon at McNeal Pavilion on Friday night in the Cascade Conference opener for both teams.
"We knew we had to step it up," said Childs, who averaged 12.3 points in seven nonconference games that saw the team struggle to a 2-5 mark. "Everyone knew what was at stake."
The win snapped a three-game losing streak and gives the Raiders (3-5, 1-0 CCC) a bit of momentum heading into Saturday night's 7:30 contest with the College of Idaho at McNeal.
"You don't start feeling like a winner until you start winning," SOU coach Brian McDermott said.
Combining a variety of drives to the basket with open jumpers, Childs made 12 of 19 shots from the field — including three 3-pointers — and 9 of 10 from the foul line in the strongest individual offensive performance by a Raider all season. Guard Eli Thornton (15 points, six steals) was the only other Raider in double figures, making seven of his 10 shots.
"Jarrad's going to fill up the stat sheet every night," McDermott said. "He's really a rhythm shooter."
He found his rhythm early Friday, making eight of 10 shots on his way to 20 first-half points as SOU shot 68 percent in jumping to a 48-28 lead over a stunned Eastern squad that had more turnovers (16) than baskets (10) in the first half.
"They looked bad, but we had a lot to do with it," McDermott said. "In the first half, we executed our game plan almost flawlessly.
"I was really pleased with the defense," he added. "That got the offense going. And we made shots."
The Raiders never trailed and shot a season best 59.2 percent from the field (29 of 49), up from their 46.6 season average. SOU lead by as many as 21 on three occasions early in the second half, before a slew of fouls and fatigue allowed the deeper Mountaineers (6-2, 0-1 CCC) to stage a late rally.
"They applied a little press early in the second half and we got shocked a bit," said Childs, who once scored 41 while playing at Umpqua Community College.
Eastern used a 17-11 run over a 5 1/2;-minute stretch to pull within two at 77-75 on Jeremy Templeton's steal and layup with 1:17 left. The Mountaineers hung around largely because of SOU's inefficiency at the free-throw line — the Raidesr made just 53 percent of their foul shots (18 of 34), including only 12 of 26 in the second half. Eastern converted 20 of 27, including 13 of 15 after halftime.
"We got a little conservative defensively in the second half," McDermott said. "We didn't do things in the last 10 minutes that we did in the first 30 minutes."
After Thornton missed four straight free throws to allow Eastern back in the game, it was up to Childs to prevent the once-comfortable lead from disappearing entirely. He made both ends of a one-and-one with 1:05 remaining to push the margin to 79-75 and give the Raiders the breathing room they would need.
Paul Carollo scored 17 points to lead six Mountaineers in double figures. Dan Stafford added 14, while Templeton and Jordan Gregg had 12 each.
Facing a team that finished second in the conference a year ago and entered the night averaging more than 91 points per contest, SOU dominated from the opening tip. The Raiders lead by 11 barely six minutes in and extended it to 48-28 in the final minutes of the first half.
"We've had times this year when we looked really good," McDermott said. "This may have been the longest stretch."
On Friday, it was just long enough.