Story: Tyler Schuster
Photos: Jacilyn Bruns
Video: Kelly Kruse
No. 1 Southern Oregon outlasted No. 4 seed Briar Cliff 81-70 in a showdown against traditionally tough teams. Ashley Claussen led the Raiders with 22 points on 7 of 16 shooting, while Autumn Durand added 16 points and eight rebounds of her own. The Chargers had four players with double-digit scoring, including Jessi Corrick and Kaylee Blake, who both finished with 17 points.
Both Briar Cliff and Southern Oregon lit it up offensively in the first half. They each shot 48% from the field and above 30% from three-point range. The Chargers had three players in double-figures at the break. Corrick had 11 points on 2 of 4 shooting, while Blake and Taylor Wagner added 10 apiece.
Claussen kept the Raiders in the game, finishing the first half with 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting. Southern Oregon also had five other players who scored between five and six in the half.
Briar Cliff outscored Southern Oregon 20-18 in the paint, 11-8 on second chance baskets and the Charger bench outscored the Raider bench 10-5. Briar Cliff forced 12 turnovers and led 42-38 at halftime.
The Raiders immediately erased the four-point deficit after halftime, scoring twice in under a minute to tie it up at 42.
The Raiders blew the doors off the Tyson Event Center after the halftime break. They scored four points in under a minute and forced an early Briar Cliff timeout. From there, Briar Cliff seized all momentum and never surrendered the lead.
“It really set the tone,” Southern Oregon Head Coach Alex Carlson said. “We kind of questioned our toughness at the half, because we thought we were playing fine, but thought we were getting out toughed.”
The Raiders shot better than 50% from both the field and the three-point line in the second half and outscored the Chargers 27-12 in the third quarter alone. Briar Cliff just failed to knock down the same shots they did in the first half, in the second half.
“It’s just tough…things that were really simple in the first half, it wasn’t like things changed, they just weren’t easy in the second half,” Briar Cliff MIke Power said. “Sometimes we play in those instances where we play not to lose instead of to win.”
Both teams traded three-points, before Courtney finished a layup and Demi Sahlinger drained a three-point heave off of one leg at the buzzer to give SOU a 65-54 lead.
The fourth quarter featured runs from both teams, but ultimately, Briar Cliff couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch.
“At the times we needed to make plays at, we didn’t,” Briar Cliff senior Jessi Corrick said. “It comes down to making plays when we needed to and we didn’t do that.”
Claussen knocked down a corner three-pointer and two late free throws that sealed the Chargers’ fate.
With the win, SOU moves on to No. 3 seed Tabor College in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 6 p.m. The Raiders have a bit of extra motivation heading into tomorrow’s game.
“We have a great opportunity against a good Tabor team tomorrow,” Carlson said. “ A little extra for us because they were the ones who knocked us out last year.”
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 1, Briar Cliff (Iowa): No. 4 Briar Cliff (Iowa) – 75 vs. No. 5 St. Ambrose (Iowa) – 63
Corrick lifts Chargers over St. Ambrose in front of hometown crowd