Ducks Out-Punch Trojans

Like a prize fighter who has taken hit after hit but still manages to fight his way out of the corner, the Ducks, both in this game and in the season, have been hit over and over but are still alive in the Pac-10 Tournament race.

Tonight, against USC, the Ducks battled their way to overtime thanks to a number of key plays by freshman Maarty Leunen, and won 94-87.

"This showed we can come through adverse situations and come away with the win," Leunen told OSN.

The Ducks (6-11, 14-12) and Trojans slugged it out all through the second half with the Ducks delivering a big blow when, with under two minutes left, Mitch Platt followed a Bryce Taylor missed three and put Oregon up five.

USC (4-13, 12-17) came back, though, as they had all night and tied the game with just over 40 seconds to play. After a Duck timeout, the ball wound up in the hands of Platt way beyond the three point line with time running down on the shot clock. The sophomore from Henderson, Nev. had to throw up a prayer but it came up short and USC had the ball with a chance to win.

The Trojans put the ball in the hands of Gabriel Pruitt, a speedy 6-foot-4 freshman guard who had 15 points in the game. Pruitt drove the lane and as he went up for a shot, he plowed over Leunen and was called for a charge with 1.5 seconds left.

"I saw him the whole way coming down and I saw he wasn't going to pull up," Leunen told OSN. "I just stepped in front of him and he kept going."

Oregon's last second three point try missed and they were going to overtime.

USC and Oregon went blow for blow early in overtime.

Oregon's Malik Hairston, who finished with 19 points, had two huge buckets in the extra period, one on a tip-in to tie the game at 81 and another on a follow dunk to put the Ducks up two at 84-82.

After SC's Dwayne Shackelford tied the game moments later with a pair of free throws, Leunen was again called upon for his heroics.

The freshman from Redmond, Ore. came to the top of the key in Oregon's motion offense, caught the ball behind the arc and drilled the trifecta to put the Ducks up three with less than a minute left.

"I was coming up to just catch the ball and swing it," Leunen told OSN. "When I caught it I was wide open…so luckily it went it."

After an SC turnover, Leunen, who finished with seven points, hit a pair of free throws to put the Ducks up five and seal the win.

"You're watching a young team grow up before your eyes," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said.

Early in the game, the Ducks were powered by Bryce Taylor, playing his first game in front of his hometown crowd. Taylor finished with 23 points in 39 minutes.

Oregon also got big efforts off the bench from Chamberlain Oguchi and Ray Schafer. Both scored 11 points, Oguchi played only nine minutes while Schafer played 20 and added four rebounds and a pair of blocks.

"He played a tremendous basketball game in the second half just like he did against Stanford," Kent said of Schafer on OSN.

With the Ducks outlasting the Trojans tonight, loses by California and Washington State would have ensured the Ducks a bid in the Pac-10 Tournament. Only the Golden Bears obliged, losing to Washington.

Oregon now needs to either win or for Cal to lose on Saturday to get in the tourney. Washington State is guaranteed a spot as they are two games ahead of Cal in the standings.

"We need to go over and beat UCLA and leave no doubt," Kent told OSN

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