Ducks move on to the Pac-12 Tournament Final

LAS VEGAS -- It may have taken five minutes longer than Dana Altman would have liked, but the results showed Oregon on top or Arizona 95-89 in the semi-final round of the Pac-12 Tournament held in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE “We made that really tough on ourselves,” said Altman of the win. “We went six of sixteen in the second half from the free throw line, which obviously gave them the opportunity to come back and they hit big shots.”

Oregon was led by Elgin Cook with 22 points with Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey adding 19 each and Dwayne Benjamin with 12.

The game looked like it would be all Oregon in the first half as the Ducks went into the lockerroom leading 44-29 but the Wildcats clawed their way back into the game and nearly won the contest in one of the most bizarre set of plays at the very end of the contest.

In the first half of the contest the Ducks looked all the part of team ready to contend for the national championship but the Wildcats are not a team that is unfamiliar with what it takes to be a champion. Arizona outscored the Ducks by 15 points and more importantly controlled the rebounding ending up holding a 50-37 advantage for the game. Behind these shooting of senior guard Gabe York who hit a total of seven 3-pointers and the tenacious rebounding of Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats would not fold.

Oregon held a seven-point lead with 26 seconds left on the game clock, but suddenly the Ducks went cold from the free throw line as the normal very reliable Casey Benson missed two charity shots and the Wildcats threw the ball to Mark Tollefsen who had been on the bench for most of the half and with just 18 seconds left to go he launched one from behind the 3-point arc and cut the score to 77-73. Arizona then purposely fouled Chris Boucher, another reliable free throw shooter, who then missed both of his attempts and may have been a little rattled because when York hit another 3-pointer with less than 1-second on the game clock, Boucher found himself in the position of inbounding the ball. Boucher then committed one of the very few mistakes he’s made this season and threw the ball to Tollefsen who turned and shot. 

“Chris (Boucher) made a mistake,” said Altman of the last second play. “He wasn’t supposed to throw the ball in, and he panicked a little bit after missing those two free throws, but he’s done so many things for us this year, and we wouldn’t be anywhere near the position we are without that young man.”

It took an official replay to determine if Tollefsen got the shot off in time, but he had and not only that, he was fouled by Brooks with only four tenths of a second left in the game. Tollefsen had two free throws, but to the agony of Arizona fans and the delight of Duck fans, he missed the front end. He made the second and the game went into overtime.

Usually, a team that squanders a 7-point lead in 18 seconds only to nearly lose the game on two free throws with virtually no time left, would wilt in overtime; but not the Oregon Ducks.

“Most teams don’t recover,” Altman admitted of the last few second of regulation play. “They have a ballgame, they let it slip and it is very difficult to recover from that and win a ball game; and I thought our guys did a tremendous job, showed tremendous resiliency there in finding a way to win the game.”

Oregon scored 18 points in the final five minutes to Arizona’s 12 and now advance on to the Pac-12 Tournament finals on Saturday night.

Arizona was led in scoring byO York with 21 points while Allonzo Trier added 16.Kadeem Allen had 14 and Tarczewski finished 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Arizona shot 39.5 percent for the contest on 30-of-76 including 12-of-27 in 3-pointers and was 17-of-25 from the charity stripe.

“I believe that Oregon is right there to be a one, two seed,” said Arizona’s Sean Miller. “I guess everyone has a different opinion, but they’re certainly one of college basketball’s best teams.”

For the Wildcats, they now await their fate in the NCAA Tournament with the seeding announcements on Sunday.

For Oregon, it is the third trip to the tournament finals in the five-year stint of Dana Altman’s reign as Oregon Men’s Basketball Coach.

Official Box Score

Notes:

·         Oregon advances to its fifth all-time Pac-12 Conference tournament championship game.

·         The Ducks won the title in 2003, 2007 and 2013.

·         The No. 1 seed is now 35-11 all-time in the history of the tournament.

·         The 184 combined points was one-point shy of the all-time total of 185 that has been tied three times.

·         It marked the sixth straight game of the 2016 Tournament to be decided by a single digit.

·         Today’s game was the first of the season for Oregon and the third for Arizona.

·         The Ducks recorded 11 blocked shots and tied a tournament record.

·         The Ducks extended their mark 630 game in which they’ve scored at least one 3-point shot.

·         Dorsey’s four 3-pointers tied his career high in made 3-point shots. He is also averaging 18-points a game in the tournament.

·         Cook jumped two spots in the Oregon career scoring list by passing Roger Wiley (1,167, 1944-49) and now has 1,176 points in his career.


eDuck Top Stories