Another Close Non-League Win

A team that has been very surprising this year almost pulled off another surprise against the Duck men at Mac Court Wednesday night. The Winthrop Eagles who hung close with South Carolina, beat Providence and nearly topped the Portland Pilots were close but no cigar as Oregon came away with a 71-56 victory that was much closer than that.

"The way we played tonight, it's going to be a long road," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent told OSN.

Although many expected the Ducks (7-1) to blow Winthrop (7-4) out from the get go, the Eagles never let the Ducks run away with this one. In fact, with just over four minutes left in the game, an Otis Daniels bucket cut the Oregon lead to just five. Enter Aaron Brooks, who was the catalyst for Duck success all night.

Brooks quickly made a pair of free throws and then created his own shot on a runner and the Ducks were back up nine. The sophomore guard from Seattle finished with a career high 25 points.

"I thought he had a great game," Kent said of Brooks. "He was smart and he was heady."

Freshman Malik Hairston also had a superb game, equaling his career high of 17 points. He also nailed a pair of threes and pulled down five boards.

The rest of the Ducks were not able to do a whole lot against the Eagles. As a team, the Ducks shot 45 percent from the floor. They also only took 49 field goal attempts, whereas Winthrop jacked up 62. The Eagles only made 21 shots, however, a 34 percent mark.

"Our veteran players have got to step up and be more consistent," Kent told OSN.

The Ducks will get a chance to rest and relax for the next three days before getting back to work Sunday to prepare for the game against Portland on Tuesday.

Portland, the team who beat Winthrop 70-64 on Monday, will look to get to 10-3 overall with a win against Oregon. Pooh Jeter leads the way in the scoring column for the Pilots averaging nearly 18 points per game. He also shoots better than 44 percent from long range.

Darren Cooper, standout guard from Portland's Benson High School, is putting up over 10 points per game after transferring from Eastern Washington two years ago. The Pilots also have 2004 Oregon State High School Player of the Year, Jeremiah Dominguez coming off the bench at point.

As former Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play man Bill Schonley would say, "Nobody said it was going to be easy," and that trend continues with the Pilots. It will be a tough test, especially after tonight's game.

"The good thing is we're 7-1, if we get the win next week we're 8-1 and in first place with Washington and Arizona State," Kent told OSN.

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