So Close Yet Again

Tonight's game fit right in the trend for the Ducks this year: hang close with a team, look like they had a shot to win, and then somehow have it not work out. Oregon was so close, though, to not letting that happen as they lost to Stanford 58-56.

"This team played their hearts out tonight," Oregon's Malik Hairston said. "I'm proud of this basketball team."

Hairston had a right to be proud. The Ducks fell behind 14-2 early in the game and didn't make a field goal for the first 7:45. Oregon (13-12, 5-11) fired right back and cut it to a one point game on a Brandon Lincoln three with 7:40 left. The Ducks made up all that ground in just over four minutes.

Early in the second half, the Ducks took their first lead of the game at 33-31. Oregon then extended that lead to eight points at 12:47 left on a Maarty Leunen three pointer which was followed by a Ray Schafer block on Stanford's Nick Robinson that sent the ball out of bounds four rows up.

Rather than have that block energize the Ducks, though, it seemed to get the Cardinal (16-10, 10-6) going. Stanford rattled off a 12-4 run to tie the game at 48 with less than nine minutes left.

Aaron Brooks gave the Ducks two point leads twice down the stretch, once on a coast-to-coast lay up and the second time, with 3:39 left, on a pair of free throws. After a possession for both teams, Hairston was fouled and had a chance to put the Ducks up four, however, he missed the front end of the one and one.

Luckily for the Ducks, Leunen grabbed the offensive board and again, Hairston was fouled and missed the front end of the one and one, opening the door for Stanford.

"I'll take full responsibility," Hairston said of the Duck loss when discussing his free throws. Hairston had a solid game otherwise with 12 points and 12 boards.

Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent sees a similarity between Hairston and a former Oregon star.

"About seven years ago there was another great player that missed free throws to beat Arizona and that was Freddie Jones his freshman year," Kent said. "He vowed never to let it happen again and he came back to be a pretty good career free throw shooter. So hopefully through this experience the next time he's in this situation he'll be able to put people away."

Stanford then got a pair of free throws from Jason Haas to tie the game with 1:11 left.

"He stepped up big," Stanford's Matt Haryasz said. Haryasz finished with 18 points to lead all scorers and also grabbed 10 boards.

Brooks was called for a charge at the other end and Stanford had the ball with a chance to take the lead with 39 seconds left. Haryasz came off of a Rob Little screen to catch the ball, he turned and went to the hoop and scored on a jumper, giving Stanford the lead by two with 17 seconds left.

"That's a play we practiced against," Schafer said. "He's supposed to plop Maarty over on that one but instead he pulled up for a good jumper."

The Ducks had a chance to win the game when Brooks, who finished with 14 points, fired a long three pointer on Oregon's last possession but it didn't go.

Oregon is in desperate need of wins as they head to USC on Thursday. They are currently tied for eighth in the Pac-10 with California. With their win over Arizona State today, Washington State moved into seventh.


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