Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Brooks hits game winner as time expires.

The Oregon Ducks had the worst first half of the season and only scored 19 points, but in the second half thanks to a heroic shot by Dillon Brooks, Oregon downed California 68-65 in Berkeley to pick up win No. 25 for the year and keep its hopes alive for completing the season as the conference champion.

Brooks ended the night with 22 points, was looking for the game winner when play resumed after a 30-second timeout with: 09.7 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 65. Brooks took the ball and dribbled to his spot at the top of the key beyond the 3-point arc and let fly. The ball went cleanly through the net with two-tenths of a second left giving Cal an opportunity for desperation, full length heave that fell short.

"Dillon was able to just push the ace and took the ball, so maybe credit him a steal," said Head Coach Dana Altman of the game winner. "He just made a play and just rose up and hit the shot. He wanted it and hit it."
 

The basket by Brooks was only the third time in the game the Ducks were in the lead. For the first half, Oregon was ice cold hitting only 29 percent on 7-of-24 field goal shooting and was devoid of any 3-point baskets. Cal though was shooting 46.2 percent on 12-of-26 shooting including hitting five 3-pointers. Still though, the Ducks trailed by 30-16.

To call Oregon cold was an understatement and to top off the Ducks’ woes, Brooks, who has been the best player for Oregon all year long, was saddled with two fouls and was only on the floor for nine minutes in the first half.

"Everyone was upset," admitted Altman of the first half play. "We didn't hit our shots -- kind of thought we were just standing around and not really getting set. I didn't recognize our team -- no energy, 0-7 from three and shot 29 percent and gave them a chance in the first half and gave up five threes. We weren't aggressive, down big on the boards and just had to realize it was a long game and we couldn't exchange baskets."

When play resumed in the second half, the Ducks picked up the defensive intensity and while Brooks was still limited in playing time as he eventually picked up two more fouls, steadily chipped away at Cal’s lead.

Even though the Ducks shot 60 percent in the second half (46.3 percent for the game) Cal continued to hold onto a lead that extended to as many at 15 (49-34) at the 9:50 mark of the second half. Coach Dana Altman then wisely kept track of Brooks’ fouls and Brooks for his part, played cautiously with four fouls.

The Ducks were able to get big help from Chris Boucher in the second half, particularly in a stretch where Oregon pared the lead down to six at 54-49 with 5:10 left in the contest.

From that point on Cal again built a 10 point lead at 59-49 with 4:15 on the game clock but then a big 3-pointer by Boucher and another by Dylan Ennis cut the Cal lead to 59-55 with 3:25. Meanwhile, Payton Pritchard who had been scoreless all game long hit a wide open 3-pointer with 2:58 left and the game was anybody’s to win with the score 59-58 in favor of Cal.

In the remaining minutes, Brooks hit two more jumpers and Boucher added a slam dunk underneath the basket while Tyler Dorsey hit one-of-two free throws to give Oregon 65 points. Cal though had not given up and managed to tie the game at 65 on an Ivan Rabb tip-in to set up the final 10 seconds and Brooks game winning last second 3-point field goal.

For the game Oregon was 25-of-54 in field goal shooting for 46.3 percent including seven 3-pointers and sinking 11-of-17 free throws.

Brooks was the leading scorer with 22 while Boucher added 18 and Ennis had 13. No other player scored in double-figures for the Ducks.

Jabari Bird led the Bears in scoring with 20; Grant Mullins chipped in 11 while Rabb and Kameron Rooks contributed 10 each. Cal shot 46 percent on 23-of-50 shooting including making seven 3-pointers.

Cal out rebounded the Ducks 36-24.

Oregon now improves to 25-4 for the year and 14-2 in conference play while Cal slips to 18-9 for the season and 9-6 in the conference standings.

The Ducks travel across the bay to Stanford on Saturday for a game that tips off at 1 p.m. and will be carried on the Pac-12 Networks.


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