Ducks Outlast Dukes, Advance To CBI Semis

On backs of Garrett Sim and Joevan Catron, the Ducks took another step towards a postseason championship; defeating the Duquesne Dukes 77-75 in a thriller that will send Oregon to the semifinals of the College Basketball Invitational tournament.

Despite the fact their opponent converted on 13-of-28 three point attempts Wednesday night and shot nearly 50 percent (48.3) from the field for the entire game, the Oregon men weathered the storm courtesy of the Duquense Dukes, outlasting the visitors from Pittsburgh, Penn. with a rousing 77-75 victory that advanced the Ducks to the semifinals of the CBI. Led by junior guard Garrett Sim, senior forward Joevan Catron and 26 attempts from the free throw line, the Ducks fought to overcome an early 14-6 deficit to Duquesne in the first half and battled tooth and nail the rest of the way to earn their 18th win of the season.

"We survived them shooting 13 out of 28 three's," Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. "We just made plays and got to the free throw line even though we didn't shoot three's as well as they did. It was a big stat that we out rebounded them by 10. I was happy about that."

Sim, who led all scorers with a season-high 20 points, spearheaded a 24-6 Oregon run over a seven minute period in the first half that enabled the Ducks to maintain the lead for the rest of the game. Sim's points, particularly in transition, helped electrify the 5,369 fans in attendance, giving the Ducks the momentum they needed to extend their season.

"There were a few steals that gave me some lay-ins that got the confidence rollin'," said Sim. "I hit a couple of shots and that sparked us in the first turned the game in our favor and that's when the fans really got in to it."

Catron, who posted his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, provided yeoman's work in the paint in spite of the Dukes best efforts to negate "Duke's" impact on the game. Though he often saw double and triple teams in the post, Catron wouldn't let himself or his teammates be denied.

"It kind of shocked me," Catron said of the attention he received from Duquesne defenders. "I wasn't expecting to be tripled teamed on the first possession and it kind of startled me. They forced me in to a few turnovers and caught me standing straight up."

"They definitely made me work for my points tonight. I pretty much just got offensive rebounds and put-backs tonight...(but) it was a great team effort. I was being double and triple teamed so I knew that guys were left open on the arc."

Along with Sim and Catron, the E.J. Singler and Malcolm Armstead chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, to give the Ducks four double-digit scorers Wednesday night.

Aside from his efforts in the low block, Catron also played a key role in ultimately securing the win for the Ducks at the end of the game. Though the Ducks held the advantage from the middle of the first half and on, Duquesne's steady barrage of three-pointers allowed them a chance to tie the game in the final seconds after Oregon's Malcolm Armstead fouled Duquesne guard Sean Johnson on a three-point attempt with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game. Johnson's miss on his first free throw attempt and the make on his second consequently forced Johnson to intentionally miss his third attempt with the hope of snaring the rebound and getting a quick shot up to either tie or win the game. Unfortunately for Johnson and the Dukes, the ball careened Catron's direction.

"I had faith in my team that we'd pull it out," Catron said. "(but) I was a little nervous that it would be all over...(during the free throw) I was just thinking: 'Secure the ball and we will win.' I told my team that I would grab the rebound."

As the team took time to celebrate with one another on the court after the game, Altman and his club realize that the turnaround is quick between now and their semifinal matchup Wednesday night at Matt Knight Arena against a hot Boise State squad who has won 10 of the their last 11 games (lone loss coming at the hands of WAC regular season and conference tournament champion, Utah State).

"We'll watch film tonight and take a look tomorrow as well, but (Boise State) is a hot team," said Altman.

"They're gonna give us everything we want -- a lot of those (wins) were on the road at Fresno, at Nevada; they won a bunch of road games in there. Anyone that has won 10 of their last 11 games has a lot of confidence and a good feel to it and we will definitely have our hands full again."

Tip-off against Boise State at Matt Knight Arena is set for Wednesday, March 23 at 7:00 pm Pacific. The live telecast of the game can be seen on HDNet.

Notes: Garrett Sim (20 points) led the team in scoring for the second time this season...Joevan Catron (14 points) and E.J. Singler (11 points) each posted their 24th double-figure scoring games of the season...Joevan Catron recorded his 12th career double-double and his fourth this season...Oregon is now 12-3 when it out-rebounds its opponent and 13-4 when leading at the half.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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