Story by Northwest Christian Sports Information
ASHLAND, Ore. – Powered by Javonte Byrd’s 35 points, and riding a clutch field goal by Travis Pacos with 15 seconds to play, Northwest Christian (Ore.) knocked off No. 2 Southern Oregon in thrilling fashion on Friday (Jan. 3), pushing aside their second nationally-ranked opponent of the year, 75-71, at Bob Riehm Arena. The win solidifies the Beacons’ position atop the Cascade Collegiate Conference at a perfect 4-0.
In a game that featured both teams shooting over 45% from the field, the Beacons (10-4, 4-0) defeated the Raiders (14-3, 3-2) utilizing only eight players throughout a contest that saw the lead change six times, with no team having more than a nine point advantage throughout the night.
Byrd was special in the victory, setting an NCU record with nine 3-pointers in the win, a record which had stood for nearly ten years. The Beacons pushed their way past an SOU squad who had been averaging almost 90 points a contest coming into the match-up, and had not lost on their home floor since February of 2013.
“I trusted my teammates,” said Byrd, playing in his fourth game with NCU since becoming eligible in the latter part of December. “This team is special. We believe in each other and I know that when it comes time to step up, any one of us can do it.”
Northwest Christian University fell behind at the break, 46-43, after a first half that saw the Raiders pour in an amazing 58.6% of their field goal attempts including an 8-for-14 effort from outside the three-point line.
Led by Kyle Tedder (18 points) and Eric Thompson (21 pts, 6 rebounds), Southern Oregon was able to answer every offensive assault the Beacons brought to bear.
NCU clamped down defensively in the 2nd half, holding the high-powered SOU offense to just 25 total points, and 34% shooting from the field to secure the victory.
A tense second half began with a 10-3 run for the Beacons, including eight points from Byrd as NCU snagged a four-point lead with 18:05 to play. The advantage would be theirs for the next eight minutes before Jordan West put the Raiders ahead 59-57 with 10:20 to go.
The lead changed hands four times over the next six minutes and SOU found themselves up 71-68 with 3:53 to go. The Beacons clamped down hard on the home team. A trey from Byrd on the next possession was followed by a go-ahead layup by Spencer Coleman with 1:49 to play and a clutch insurance jumper by Pacos with 15 ticks on the clock.
The Raiders went cold, failing to score over the final four minutes as they missed on four three-point attempts in the final 1:30.
“I am proud that these guys pulled together and found a way to gut out a win,” First year Head Coach Luke Jackson remarked after the game. “It’s not just about one person. It’s about a team believing that good things can happen if you work together.”
NCU had four players in double figures, led by Byrd and senior Coleton Baker who scored 15. Sophomore Austin Kuemper posted a double-double with 11 points and ten boards and Coleman finished with 12 points.