Matt Gemmell/The Siskiyou
Sr. Ben Krasowski has provided hustle in his time at SOU. His work ethic is praised by his coaches.
Turnovers tarnished senior night for Southern Oregon (12-15, 5-11) men’s basketball as they fell to Albertson (19-5, 13-4) 74-60 Saturday night.
The Raiders were scrappy from the tip-off. Loose ball battles often led to Raiders diving on the floor and coming out with possession. The high intensity got SOU off to a fine start as they led the 13th ranked Coyotes early on.
The ornery Raiders compiled many of their first half points from under the hoop, as the squad was cold from deep, starting the game 0-5 from the 3-point line. The streak of deep misses ended when Matt Cowell drained a three-ball from a few feet behind the line. The feat was repeated by Chuckie Ivey the next possession, and the Raiders held a 29-27 lead late in the first half.
Thoughts of the underdog Raiders going into the locker room with a lead soon vanished as Albertson ended the half with an 8-2 run capped off by an Ike Stafford buzzer-beater from half-court. SOU trailed 35-31 at the half.
Josh McDermott had a stellar first half as he racked up seven points and five boards in the opening stanza. Albertson’s Josh Owen led all scorers at the break with nine. Albertson’s 7-16 shooting from deep was the key to their slim lead at the midway point.
The tide turned violently in the second half as the Coyotes applied concentrated defensive pressure and took advantage of sloppy SOU ball control early in the second half. The Raiders were denied anything near the hoop and were only able to convert on three 3-pointers as Albertson went on a 21-9 run the start the half.
With the deficit and turnovers rising midway through the period, SOU head coach Brian McDermott sent in all three of his seniors. The veterans’ passion and perseverance got the Raiders going and they began to keep pace with the visitors. However, the squad was unable to stifle the Coyote offense and the Raiders could not find the scoring run necessary to thwart the 15-point advantage.
The Coyote lead never exceeded 17, but it was enough for them to glide to the finish line.
Turnovers and free throws were the Raiders’ downfall on this senior night. SOU finished the game with 22 turnovers committed to Albertson’s 11. The Raiders were also outscored 20-10 from the free-throw line as they shot a dismal 55 percent from the charity stripe, while the Coyotes made 83 percent of their freebies.
Albertson’s scoring was led by Josh Owen and Craig McGee who each scored 16 points. A balanced Coyote rebounding performance was led by Bryan Champ who snagged seven boards.
Senior Erion Moore had a solid senior night with seven points and eight rebounds. Senior Ben Krasowski added nine points to go with four boards. He also led SOU in steals with three. The third senior, Matt Espinoza could only muster two points on one of eight shooting as he continues his comeback from a back injury.
Ivey tallied 12 points and Cowell scored 11. Cowell also led SOU with five assists but somewhat overshadowed that performance with his six turnovers. McDermott led the Raiders in scoring with 13 points to go with his seven rebounds. The sophomore has shown great improvement this season and it seems he may have a very productive basketball future ahead.
“[Josh] is probably our smartest player and he works his ass off all the time,” said his father and coach Brian McDermott. “He knows how to play and he knows the game. His limitations have been physical, and he is starting to overcome those. I think people will be very happy with him next year.”
Josh credits his uprising to experience.
“I’ve just gotten more confident as the year has gone on,” said Josh McDermott. “Last year I didn’t get many minutes. I just feel better and better each game.”
As this group of seniors nears the end of their time at SOU, coach McDermott is left to contemplate what he will be losing.
“[Matt Espinoza] is our best shooter, even though he has been hurt for much of [the season],” said McDermott. “Erion is probably our most consistent low post scorer. Benny is just one of those system guys that keeps working and hopefully makes other people work. They all have little characteristics that we’ll miss and we have to try to replace.”
Espinoza had a rough night in his last home game as a Raider. A lingering back injury undoubtedly played a part in his one of eight shooting performance that netted him only two points. He did contribute three rebounds and three assists in his senior night effort.
The Raiders look ahead and find only two games remaining on the schedule. They will square off with Concordia and Corban this weekend and will play their first round playoff game next week.