Ducks fall to Pilots, 80-72

The Portland Pilots (5-7) can claim they own the state of Oregon with a 80-72 win over the Oregon Ducks (6-5) on Thursday night at the Chilles Center on the University of Portland campus. The Ducks hampered by 17 turnovers and marginal shooting in a game that Oregon's head coach Ernie Kent called "the worst officiated game" he's had to deal with this season.

Portland's Pooh Jeter (11) shoots over Oregon's Aaron Brooks during the first half of a college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Kent complained after the game in an interview with the Oregon Sports Network that his team's momentum was affected by the calls. Oregon was whistled 29 times compared to Portland's 16, but the Pilots shot 39 free throws to the Ducks 26. Portland's Darrin Cooper alone was 15-for-16 from the foul line while the Ducks in total on shot 19-of-26 from the charity stripe. Portland finished the night shooting 28-for-39 free throws.

"I'm going to take a look at tape and it's going to make me sick because again I thought it was a poor job on their part officiating," exclaimed a disgusted Kent in the OSN interview regarding the officials. "Conference comes after me, they come after me, that's Ok. I'm going to call it like it was."

While Kent was caustic in his remarks toward the officials, he also praised the effort put out by the Pilots especially the play of Cooper and Pooh Jeter.

"I thought their guard play was just terrific," said Kent of Cooper and Jeter. "Those are two great point guards, we had a tough time shutting them down tonight and they had a fabulous game."

Jeter finished the night as the high-point man for the game with 25 on 9-for-17 shooting night including 3-for-7 in 3-pointers and 4-for-4 free throws. Cooper had 21 on 3-for-9 and the 15-for-16 in free throws.

Aside from the disparity in fouls, Kent also believed that the Ducks failed to play well defensively and was unable to control the momentum of the game especially when the game was on the line and the Ducks had a chance to take control. In the last minutes of the game Oregon cut the lead down to few as four points, but were never able to make key plays to tie the game or take the lead.

"They had tremendous energy and momentum in the game, Kent said of the Pilots. "They had pretty much control of the game with the exception of the first five or six minutes."

Three Ducks scored in double figures led by junior guard Aaron Brooks with 13. Sophomore Malik Hairston had 11 while junior Adam Zahn had 11. As a team the Ducks were 23-of-53 or 43.4 percent.

The Ducks now will break for Christmas and hope to find some solution to the inconsistency that has plagued them in the non-conference schedule. While they showed great promise against some opponents like Vanderbilt, Oregon fell apart by the very good teams such as Illinois. Kent hopes the break for Christmas will be beneficial to his players.

"It's going to be a long Christmas for us because right now we're struggling a little bit and we need to regroup," observed the head coach. "This might be the thing we need to break and come back and get back to work because we have one more game to try to figure things out before we get into Pac-10 play."

Oregon is off until Tuesday December 27th when they take on the Portland State Vikings at McArthur Court.

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