CORVALLIS, Oregon – An NCAA Tournament berth is seemingly assured for the UO men’s basketball team after the Ducks used clutch free-throwing shooting in the final 30 seconds to survive a Civil War slugfest, 65-62, before 9,339 raucous fans in Gill Coliseum.
How It Happened: The Ducks (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12) took command after the sixth and final tie of the night, at 52-52 in the final five minutes. On a set play out of a timeout, Dwayne Benjamin used a Joseph Young screen to find space for a three-pointer that put Oregon up for good. Young then forced a steal at midcourt, drove the lane and dished to Dillon Brooks for an emphatic dunk. The Beavers (17-13, 8-10) scored twice to get within one, but Elgin Cook, Brooks and Jalil Abdul-Bassit each hit two of two free throws in the final 30 seconds to clinch it for Oregon.
Before the teams slugged it out over the final minutes, it was a game of runs. Oregon opened up with an 8-0 lead, and the Beavers used a 7-1 spurt to get within 11-10. Oregon State clawed ahead, using a 10-2 run to lead 28-19, before the Ducks again scored eight in a row to get within 28-27. The score was tied at halftime, 32-32, and the Beavers scored the first six out of halftime before Oregon used two different 7-0 runs to lead 48-44. The second 7-0 run came after OSU’s Gary Payton II picked up his third and fourth fouls on consecutive possessions with more than 13 minutes left. He went to the bench with the Beavers up 44-41, their last lead.
Who Stood Out: Cook made 7-of-12 field goals to score 17 points and lead four UO scorers in double figures. Young added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Abdul-Bassit and Benjamin scored 12 apiece.
What It Means: Oregon is “off the bubble (and) in the field” for the NCAA Tournament, projects Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. The Ducks take a five-game winning streak into the conference tournament next week, having won nine out of their last 10.
Odds and Ends: The Ducks have now lost the battle on the boards just twice in their last nine games, despite relying on a lineup that rarely goes bigger than 6-foot-7. … Payton barely missed a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. … UO football coaches Mark Helfrich, Don Pellum, Scott Frost, Steve Greatwood and Matt Lubick sat behind the Oregon bench. … With no seniors to honor prior to their final home game, Oregon State started five walk-ons, all Oregon natives. The Beavers subbed in their usual starters after two possessions by each team, with the Ducks leading 3-0.
Up Next: The Ducks begin play in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas next Thursday, most likely as the No. 3 seed (8:30 p.m., ESPN). They would face the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between the No. 6 and No. 11 seeds, still to be determined by play this weekend.
Story provided by Oregon athletics.