Northwest flexes inside muscle, pulls away late for win over SOU

Greg George's 6-foot-9, 235-pound body crashed to the floor in a heap. If the fall hurt, he didn't show it, popping right back up with an ear-to-ear grin.

After one thunderous exclamation point, he had plenty to smile about.

George scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, including a monster two-handed dunk to kickoff a four-point play late, as Northwest held on to beat Southern Oregon 90-82 Friday at McNeal Pavilion.

Blake Solomon hit 5 of 7 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points and George added nine rebounds for the Eagles (14-10, 8-5 Cascade Conference) who shot 65 percent in the second half.

Jarrad Childs scored 18 points and Ryan Staker 17 to lead the Raiders (11-12, 3-11). Southern Oregon entered the night a half-game behind eighth-place College of Idaho in the conference standings with five games to go. Only the top eight teams qualify for the league playoffs.

Northwest outscored SOU 15-5 to turn what had been a tight game into a 15-point blowout, capping the run on George's stuff over Chris Mackovjak with 1:56 to go. Mackovjak was called for a flagrant foul after George hit the deck, and the powerful post drained both free throws to give the Eagles an 81-66 lead.

"We had a hell of a time stopping them inside," SOU coach Brian McDermott said. "They rebounded and they got a lot of inside stuff. We just couldn't contain their big guys inside."

The Eagles' other big man, Greg Peters, a 6-foot-8 forward, had 12 points and 15 rebounds before leaving the game midway through the second half with a cut above his eye.

Northwest's big finish spoiled a spectacular first-half comeback by the Raiders, who erased a 22-8 deficit to take a 33-31 halftime lead. They did most of their damage at the free throw line, taking advantage of Northwest's foul trouble — the Eagles picked up their seventh team foul with 7:21 to go — to hit 12 of 13 at the stripe. Staker also came up big in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing four rebounds.

Tyson Christie's jumper gave Northwest the lead for good, 50-48, with 11:40 left in the game. The teams battled evenly over the next six minutes until a layup by George, a dunk by Tyson Christie and another layup by George extended Northwest's lead to 11 with 3:32 to go.

Childs' managed to stop the bleeding with a pull-up 3, but Northwest answered with two key jumpers of its own, including a 3 by Solomon, before George's big play iced the game.

"Our guys played hard, they stayed in it, we just always make mistakes at the wrong time," McDermott said. "But their big kids play well."

Northwest did not attempt a free throw in the first half but hit 23 of 29 in the second half, including 11 of 14 in the last two minutes.

Southern Oregon plays its regular season home finale against Evergreen State tonight before hitting the road for its final three league games against Oregon Tech, Warner Pacific and Concordia.

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