ASHLAND, Ore. — Rivalry week in Oregon means more than just Ducks and Beavers football. What it means in southern Oregon is a doubleheader basketball game between bitter rivals Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon University. Their early-season conference meeting Tuesday is the first in 25 years to happen before January.
For the women's teams, it's also the first time they'll see each other on the court in 21 months after the SOU team didn't have a spring season in 2020. Some of the main players in that game remain the same, so there will be a bit of familiarity in the rivalry game.
The Raiders return Dominique Harding and Syd'Nee Fryer who each played big roles in the 2019-20 sweep of the Owls. Harding led SOU in scoring in both games, scoring 19 points in each. Fryer had a combined seven steals while also averaging 11 points a game. This year, however, Harding and Fryer are off to slower starts, averaging 8 and 7.5 points a game respectively.
In the first five games of the season, the Raiders women's team has turned to sophomore Kami Walk who on Monday was named the Cascade Conference's women's basketball player of the week. Walk is nearly averaging a double-double a game with over 21 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. The Eugene-native has over double the number of points of the next highest scorer on the SOU team.
For Oregon Tech, they also bring back two of their main contributors from the 2019-20 season in Kristin Farrell and Abby Kreiser. Both of them led their team in scoring in the two games from two years ago with Kreiser scoring 22 points in their second loss to SOU. This season, Farrell has been red-hot from three, shooting 60 percent from behind the arc which accounts for 36 of her 52 total points.
But the Hustlin' Owls offense has been buoyed by two underclassmen: Shelby Blodgett and Maddyson Tull. Blodgett is a freshman and currently leads the team in scoring and tied for rebounds while averaging less than 18 minutes a game. Tull, in her third year with OIT and listed as a sophomore, is not far behind Blodgett. The 6-foot-2 center has started all five games this season and is shooting over 58 percent from the field.
On the men's side, the shortest amount of time the two teams have gone between playing each other in separate seasons. Oregon Tech took both meetings in April of this year, the second one a high-scoring affair that needed overtime. Both squads are looking for a win to maybe help jump-start their seasons. After six games, both SOU and OIT stare at 2-4 records. Interestingly enough, they've played the same teams in the last four weeks and have won and lost to the same teams, possibly spelling a close game on Tuesday.
Southern Oregon's men's team has leaned heavily on redshirt junior Josh Meyer in the early goings of the season. The Seattle-native is averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. Next is redshirt freshman Joe Juhala who has stepped into a larger role this season. He's shooting over 65 percent from the field with 56 points while averaging just over 20 minutes a game.
The Raiders are still looking for a few players to return to their spring season form. Tez Allen and Jake Virga each averaged over 13 points a game during the 11-game spring season this year. In six games this season, neither Allen (7.8) nor Virga (8.2) are averaging even nine points a game.
Oregon Tech is off to an equally slow start, especially considering they entered the season ranked 19th in the country and were picked to win the Cascade Conference. Garret Albrecht and Kaison Faust, OIT's leading scorers from the spring, are back atop the points leaderboard for the Owls.
Albrecht earned himself a CCC player of the week nod for his recent performances. Now in his sixth season with Oregon Tech, the Redmond, Oregon-native has put together back-to-back double-doubles. He's scored 94 points in six games with over 62 percent of those coming in the last two games. North Medford standout Kaison Faust has had three double-digit point games this season and is averaging just over 10 points a game. The junior is being called on a lot as well, leading the team in minutes played through six games.
It all adds up to an exciting night of basketball in Ashland on Tuesday. The women's game tips off at 5:30 pm with the men's game following at 7:30 pm. Both games will be played at Lithia Motors Pavilion. Fans need to provide proof of full vaccination or have negative COVID-19 test results from a test taken no more than 48 hours before entry into the venue, according to SOU's policy.