Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon Eliminated by North Carolina 77-76

The Oregon Ducks season ended on Saturday in the Final Four as the Ducks could not take advantage of four straight missed free throws in the last five seconds of the game and gave up two huge offensive rebounds to Theo Pinson and then Kennedy Meeks and lost 77-76 to North Carolina.

In those final five seconds, the Ducks had managed to pull to within one point at 77-76 with five seconds left to go. After Keith Smith scored an easy 2-pointer to pull within two, Tyler Dorsey immediately fouled Meeks on the ensuing inbound pass in order to stop the clock and give the Ducks a chance for a possession and for a win should Meeks miss one of this two free throws. Meeks obliged Oregon’s plans by missing both free throws, but to the Tar Heels credit, Pinson out hustled the Ducks to the ball and threw it to Joel Berry II. Payton Pritchard fouled Berry to stop the clock and again the Ducks hoped for a missed free throw and again Berry helped the Oregon cause by missing both shots. This time though Meeks redeemed himself by out muscling Jordan Bell for the ball and passed the ball out to Pinson as time expired.

Oregon fought its own mistakes and poor 3-point shooting all game plus battling an impressive North Carolina inside game headed by Meeks who ended up with the game high 25 points and 14 rebounds including eight offensive boards. Oregon turned the ball over 16 times to North Carolina’s 11 turnovers.

The Ducks also struggled to get point production out of the two leading scorers. Dillon Brooks who led Oregon is scoring for the season fouled out with 1:32 left in the contest after scoring 10 points, six of which were from the free throw line. Dorsey was the leading Ducks scorer with 21 points, but he too had trouble finding the range and scored all but four of his points in the second half.

Bell had an outstanding game collecting a game high 16 rebounds, scoring 13 points and blocking four shots. Dylan Ennis was the fourth Duck to score in double-figures, ended the game with 18 points.

In the first half, Oregon had built an eight-point lead at 30-22 on back-to-back Ennis 3-pointers, but the Tar Heels kept attacking the basket and aided by Meeks toughness inside and some missed boxed out defensive plays on the Ducks part North Carolina went into halftime with a 3-point lead, 39-36.

For most of the second half it appeared that the Tar Heels were ready to pull away from the Ducks as Oregon kept missing from outside. For the game, Oregon shot 37.9 percent from the field on 22-of-58 including an icy 7-of-26 in 3-pointers.

Carolina actually had a lower field goal percentage, 25-of-68 including 8-of-21 in 3-pointers.

Meeks led the way in scoring for the Tar Heels with 25, while Justin Jackson ended up with 22 while Berry had 11 to round out the North Carolina double-digit scorers for the game.

The Ducks seemed on the verge of going under, but as they have done all season long, seemed ready to be in contention to win the game in the closing minutes of the contest.

Bell had to be taken of the contest halfway through the second half as he appeared to roll his ankle. However, he was only out of the game for a couple of minutes before coming back in.

Even though the Ducks and Tar Heels were dead even in total rebounds at 43, UNC had 17 offensive boards to Oregon’s 12. The Ducks had a total of seven blocked shots, four by Bell and one each from Brooks, Ennis and Kavell Bigby-Williams. The Tar Heels had a total of three blocked shots.

The game was the largest crowd Oregon basketball has ever played in front of as 77,612 were in attendance.

The Ducks finish the season with a record of 35-6 while North Carolina will not face Gonzaga, coached by Oregon Alum Mark Few, in the championship game on Monday night.

 Official Box Score

 


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