Oregon Takes CBI Championship In Thriller

The Oregon men take home the CBI championship after their last-second win over the Creighton Bluejays in Game 3 of the CBI Finals. E.J. Singler's bank-in jumper with two seconds left in the game secured the 71-69 victory.


It's not just Charlie Sheen's most revered word, but it's also the word that comes to mind when senior forward Joevan Catron looks back on his career at Oregon.

"You don't want to end something with a loss," Catron said. "To end with a win, that's how I'm gonna remember (my career)."

Simple and to the point indeed. However, in witnessing Catron's effort and desire in the Ducks' 71-69 CBI championship victory over Creighton on Friday night, it was obvious that the game and the moment meant more to him than a word or a sentence could adequately describe.

Behind the career-high 29 points he scored and the perfection of his clutch 7-for-7 shooting performance in the second half, was a man who played as if he was racing against the clock -- as if he realized that the time that had been borrowed was suddenly fleeting with each ticking second.

"He's a competitor," Oregon head coach Dana Altman said of Catron. "He has proven that all year...he made big plays. I can't say enough about him. I've tried to, throughout the year, to let you guys and gals know how important he was to our team."

"We rode him and built everything around him and he responded."

In a game with 14 lead changes that was played virtually identical from a statistical standpoint, the difference was the nearly undetectable half-court line on Oregon's floor that caused an over and back violation on Creighton's Antoine Young -- who led the Bluejays with 21 points -- with just over 17 seconds left in the game.

"I'm just happy they made our court that way," Oregon sophomore forward E.J. Singler chuckled, finishing with 15 points.

"Our court has a different feeling that you don't see anywhere else and, like today, it worked in our advantage."

The turnover allowed Oregon head coach Dana Altman to draw up a play to send Catron and the rest of his team home as winners.

"I knew we wanted to keep the time and not start until somewhere around seven (seconds)," said Singler, who delivered the game-winning bucket. "We were just passing it around the top. I got it with around seven, so I just had to make a move real quick. I got a good open look and I knocked it down."

"When I let it go, I knew it was gonna go in."

Singler's bank-in jump shot sent the 9,335 folks in attendance at Matthew Knight Arena into a delirium as two seconds remained. As Creighton's final desperation shot from the fateful half-court line fell short, fans and students rushed the court to celebrate with the team that had been picked to finish tenth in the Pac-10 by the conference's media members.

"We were a new team with a new coach with new players and a new system," Catron remarked of the preseason rankings. "It just took us a little time and after that, after it started clicking, we were a dangerous team."

With the game and his collegiate career over, Catron took a seat on the Oregon bench and wept before accepting the CBI Tournament MVP award, reflecting he said on the journey and the moments that defined his time at Oregon.

"It's been a long, hard ride," Catron said with emotion built in eyes. "It's like I've been prolonging leaving eventually, but tonight was it win or lose. I'm glad we won and I just kind of had a reflection moment when I sat down to look over my career,

"To end it this way, it's great."

In spite of the win however, Altman admitted he didn't feel as good about it as maybe he should, considering that he had just defeated the former school where he had made his mark as a head coach.

"You spend 16 years at a place, it's kind of hard to wish against those guys," Altman stated. "I saw the heartbreak in their eyes just like I've seen the heartbreak in our guys' eyes."

"(I was with) Kenny Lawson for four years, I've known Kaleb Korver since he was 10 years old, Josh Jones had heart surgery and I was there, Antoine Young was a little point guard that committed to us after his freshman year of high school...there's a lot of guys over there that I've known for four or five years and I got close to them."

Looking ahead to next year, Altman is hopeful that the momentum of ending the season on a successful note will carry over, saying that the onus is on the returning players to continue making a commitment to winning.

"(The win) is really important if they use it and work their tails off," Altman admitted. "I talked to them in (the locker room) about the investment they're going to have to make in this program for us to get better,

"Joevan's investment in the program came through and we need other players to invest like that. If they don't, they won't have the type of year or the type of career that Joevan had...they know what it takes now, we just need other guys to step up and do that."


Joevan Catron (29 points) finishes his collegiate career with 1,149 points and posted the highest point total for any Oregon player this season. He also scored in double figures for the 28th time this season. Catron also made a career-high 11 field goals in the win...E.J. Singler (15 points) recorded his 27th double-digit scoring effort of the season...With the win, Dana Altman posted the second-highest win total (21) of any first-year UO head coach. Only John Warren (30 wins in 1944-45) posted more in his first year on the sidelines...Oregon turned the ball over a season-best six times, including only one miscue in the first half.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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