Big Shot

It was just one three pointer, but that shot kept the Oregon Ducks in the hunt for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Andre Joseph's key long ball with just over a minute to go in the game put the Oregon State Beavers away and propelled the Ducks to an 81-74 win over the Beavs in Mac Court. <br><br><i> (PHOTO LEFT) Oregon's Luke Jackson celebrates his team's 81-74 win over Oregon State on Saturday, Feb 7, 2004, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)</i>

After falling behind at the end of the first half on a David Lucas inside bucket, the Ducks did not see the lead in the game until a Luke Jackson three pointer with just over six minutes left. Jackson's bucket put Oregon (11-6, 6-4) up 66-65, but by no means did Oregon control the game.

The two rivals battled back and forth through the next few minutes, with OSU (8-12, 2-8) always just one or two shots away from the lead. Jackson, who led the Ducks with 24 points, hit another key shot with 2:34 left that put the Ducks up 74-72. A possession later, with time running down on the shot clock and with the game clock under two minutes to go, Jackson had the ball again. He started to drive in the lane but slipped and fell down.

"I really just wanted to drive to the hoop and hope I'd draw a foul because it would be two shots," Jackson said.

The senior looked and saw guard Andre Joseph standing at the top of the key. Jackson got him the ball; Joseph stepped back and launched a shot from well beyond NBA three point range.

"The shot clock was running down and when it left my hand it felt good," Joseph said.

As the ball fell softly through the net, the Oregon fans and bench exploded and the Ducks held a 77-72 lead with 1:35 left in the game, their biggest lead since 6:01 to go in the first half.

"He took the right shot in the right rhythm at the right time," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent said of Joseph's shot.

"I just wanted to hug him," Jackson said.

His shot ended OSU's hopes of a sweep against the Ducks and keeps Oregon alive in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Committee. It also leaves the Ducks tied (in the loss column at least) with California for second in the Pac-10 standings.

"If we lose this game we probably don't reach the NCAA Tournament," Joseph said.

It was a long road to get to that shot for the Ducks though. After opening the second half ice cold, Oregon fought their way back. Finally, it took Oregon going into a half-court trap to slow down the Beavers.

The Ducks started to trap OSU, forcing turnovers and energizing themselves and the crowd. Jordan Kent was the catalyst for the Oregon trap, hustling all over the floor and forcing a number of errant Oregon State passes. Kent had three steals to go with his career high nine points.

From there, the Ducks found a little bit of a shooting touch with Jackson, Ian Crosswhite and Joseph all pouring in big buckets. Finally, the Jackson three with 6:15 left gave the Ducks the lead for good.

"It was great to see that we sucked it up and pulled out the win," Crosswhite said.

Throughout crunch time, it was Jackson again who had the ball in his hands. 17 of his points came in the second half, as did four of his seven rebounds. When Oregon needed a bucket, he or Andre Joseph was there.

"There's a certain point in the game where you just don't want to lose and you'll do anything not to lose," Jackson said.

Once again, Oregon found it difficult to stop OSU's David Lucas. The power forward finished with 20 points on 7-12 shooting in 34 minutes.

As a whole, the Beavers nearly won this game. They worked hard and were very close to sweeping the Ducks for the first time since the 1992-1993 season.

"We battled extremely hard," OSU's Lamar Hurd said.

The Ducks travel north for their next game, this one with the Washington Huskies. Oregon has lost to Washington in Seattle in the last two seasons. One of the most heated rivalries in all sports will see tip-off at 7:30 on Thursday, February 12th.

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