The road trip to the state of Washington began with a thud in the Palouse, but ended in a bang in Seattle.
Oregon salvaged a split up north with a 64-61 overtime thriller in Seattle to dispose of the Huskies. Payton Pritchard hit a 30-footer from the right wing with a hand in his face with just 3.2 seconds left to clinch the huge win over their bitter rivals.
Pritchard finished with 22 points to lead Oregon, but it was Chandler Lawson’s career game that really got the Ducks settled down on offense. Coach Dana Altman trusted the lanky freshman at the high post of that Washington zone to read the defense and make the correct play and for the most part, Lawson did his job. His 16 points and 12 rebounded fueled Oregon’s rally.
The Ducks had found themselves down by 16 at one point in the second half, but kept fighting against that Washington zone and getting defensive stops in order to climb back into it.
Lawson found Shakur Juiston under the hoop where the senior forward’s up-and-under mover tied the game at 56 with 17 seconds left in regulation. After a timeout, Oregon pressed the Huskies, forcing time off the clock and eventually watched Jamal Bey’s shot at the buzzer go long, sending the game into the extra period.
Playing overtime is quickly becoming part of Oregon’s DNA as this was the fourth such game that needed an extra five minutes.
Both teams traded baskets in the overtime until Oregon found itself with the ball with 40 seconds to go and the game tied. Pritchard attempted a long three that missed the mark, but Chris Duarte corralled his biggest rebound to extend the possession and giving his point guard another chance at a game-winner.
Pritchard wouldn’t miss twice.
Washington had one more desperation shot at the buzzer, but Raequan Battle’s attempt was well short and the Ducks claimed victory.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for the Ducks in Pullman as WSU shocked the No. 8 Oregon team 72-61. Pritchard led the way with 22 and Duarte added 15, but CJ Elleby’s 25 was too much to overcome.
Down for the entire game, Oregon had a chance to tie the game with 3:32 left, but missed lay-ins cost the Ducks the tie. The Cougars outscored Oregon 12-3 down the stretch for the upset.
Now at 4-2 in conference action and 15-4 overall, the Ducks will come back home to face the Los Angeles schools with USC on Thursday before UCLA invades Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday.
~ Don Smalley