Story: Austin Druse
Photos: Jacilyn Bruns
Video: Austin Remm
Only one No. 1 seed remains in the field, the Southern Oregon Raiders. The Raiders defeated the No. 3 seed Tabor College Bluejays (Kan.) 73-67 on Saturday evening. Last year, Tabor was a No. 7 seed and upset the then No. 3 seed Southern Oregon 72-65.
For Southern Oregon, they are making their first appearance in the national semifinals since 1997, and will have to do so without senior guard Ashley Claussen, who went down with an apparent knee injury in the first half. Claussen then returned for just 12 seconds in the 3rd quarter before falling to the floor and re-aggravating her knee. Clausen averages 18.1 points per game and shoots 42 percent from three.
“It doesn’t look good, they’re thinking that she’s stretching ligaments initially. She warmed it up at half, was moving pretty fine forward, was a little questioning laterally, she wanted to try it out,” Southern Oregon coach Alex Carlson said. “It’s, it’s not great.”
Carlson noted that his team needed to stick to running certain sets in order to make up for the loss of Claussen, and that it will be difficult for his team moving forward.
As per gameplan, the Southern Oregon Raiders came out in their zone full-court press that falls back into a 2-3. That defense forced 14 first-half Tabor turnovers, which the Raiders were able to capitalize on with 18 points off of those turnovers. That pressure carried over into the final 20 minutes, and the Bluejays finished with 22 turnovers on the night, allowing 26 points off of them.
“They’re a totally different team than they were a year ago, they run some different stuff,” Tabor coach Shawn Reed said.
Both Teena Loewen of Tabor and Carly Meister of Southern Oregon dropped 12 points in the first half. Loewen shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor in the first half to go along with her five rebounds and two assists. Meister hit five shots on seven attempts and grabbed two boards.
“I thought [Meister] made a lot of improvement in one year. They leaned heavily on her in the first half, I thought we did a little bit better job on her in the second half,” Reed said.
Neither of the two produced in the second half to the standard set in the first half, as Loewen tallied just six points. However, she did finish with game-highs in points and rebounds, with 18 and 12 respectively. Meister was held to four points in the second half, and grabbed just four boards on the night.
While this Southern Oregon team lacks deep tournament experience, their opponent, the Goshen Maple Leafs (Ind.) also lack that experience, as this is Goshen’s first trip to the semifinals.
“I think that’s another one of those things that’s neat again about this tournament, you know, you have different styles,” said Carlson when asked about the isolation game Goshen plays. “They handle the ball really well. You know, our job is to speed it up and be as active as possible.”
Round 1, Southern Oregon: No. 1 Southern Oregon – 85 vs. No. 8 Clarke (Iowa) – 63
Southern Oregon blasts Clarke, will face Briar Cliff in second round
Round 2, Southern Oregon: No. 1 Southern Oregon – 81 vs. No. 4 Briar Cliff (Iowa) – 70
Southern Oregon beats Briar Cliff in slugfest
Round 1, Tabor (Kan.): No. 3 Tabor (Kan.) – 68 vs. No. 6 Hastings (Neb.) – 44
Dominant fourth quarter lifts Tabor over Hastings
Round 2, Tabor (Kan.): No. 3 Tabor (Kan.) – 80 vs. No. 7 Asbury (Ky) – 73
Tabor outlasts Asbury in OT victory