A win is a win, no matter how you slice it. And for the Oregon men's basketball team, getting off to a 1-0 start could be the first step towards reversing the troubling losing trend that has plagued the Ducks the past couple of seasons.
"It's always great to start the season off with a win," said senior forward Joevan Catron. "Especially a win like that -- grinding it out, being down 5 in overtime and coming back to get a win -- I think that builds a lot of chemistry and toughness for our team."
Catron had a career night in his first regular season action since being sidelined most of last season with a lingering back injury. His 27 points and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes of action helped put the Ducks over the top against a deceptively physical North Dakota State squad.
"The game was very tough," admitted Catron. "They're a very physical team and I think that kind of shocked us."
Down by five with just over 3:00 left to play in overtime, the team that may have wilted during a tough stretch of play last year, found a way to claw back and secure victory. Consecutive three-pointers by senior guard Jay-R Strowbridge -- who finished with a career-high 18 points -- and junior forward Teondre Williams -- who finished with 15 -- gave the Ducks a brief lead before NDSU senior forward Michael Tveidt drilled a three of his own to give the Bison a 92-90 lead. After Strowbridge went 1 for 2 on free throw attempts to cut North Dakota State's lead to 1, the Ducks got a defensive stop and called a timeout to draw up a play for their senior leader.
"I wanted it," grinned Catron after the game. "I wanted to be that guy to put the team over the top and I came through tonight."
Catron's mid-range jumper with 29 seconds left gave Oregon a lead they wouldn't relinquish, ensuring an "important" win according to Oregon head coach Dana Altman.
"A lot of teams would have quit," said Altman. "Being down 5 in the overtime I thought our team showed some resiliency and got themselves back in the game and we made enough plays to win. We gotta make a lot of improvement in a lot of areas, but to get a win was really important."
Notes: Michael Tveidt led the Bison with 27 points and 7 rebounds, while true freshman center Marshall Bjorklund chipped in a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in overtime...Oregon freshman guard Johnathan Loyd was instrumental during the final stretch of play after Malcolm Armstead fouled out with 1:00 left in regulation. The Las Vegas, Nev. native finished the game with 8 assists and no turnovers; clinching Oregon's victory by going 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the waning moments of the game.
Odds and Ends: Joevan Catron not only recorded a career high in points (27), but also notched a career high in free throws made (9) and tied a career-best for free throws attempted (12)...E.J. Singler recorded his first collegiate double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds). He also set career highs for points (16), blocks (3), field goals made (6) and attempted (11), 3-pointers made (4) and attempted (6)...Teondre Williams recorded a career-best for rebounds (8) and blocks (3). His 15 points was the most since scoring 19 points against Montana State on Nov. 28 last season.
Oregon continues its run in the BTI Invitational on Saturday when it faces Denver (0-1). Opening tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. from McArthur Court.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
Ducks Need OT To Beat Bison
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