Ducks Bow Out of Tournament on Thursday

Los Angeles -- It was a matter of trying to dig themselves out of too deep of a hole and on Thursday night against Washington State (24-7), the Oregon Ducks (18-13) could not find the final bit of energy to find a win and defend the Pac-10 Tourney Championship as they fell 75-70.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Tajuan Porter (12) scores on a layup against Washington State's Robbie Cowgill (34) late in the second half of their quarterfinals basketball game at the Pac-10 men's college basketball tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Thursday, March 13, 2008. Washington State won 75-70. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Despite nearly erasing a 22-point deficit in the second half, the Ducks could not make enough ground in the last minute of the game.

"We played a great second half of basketball," said Oregon Head Coach of the game. "We battled back and put ourselves in a situation with the opportunity to pull the game out or steal the game from them, but they did a great job of closing out the game."

The Ducks faced an uphill fight from the onset as the Cougars, behind guards Taylor Rochestie and Derrick Low came out firing on all cylinders and took a commanding lead that at one point was as much as 22 (42-20) near the end of the first half. The Ducks did not look as sharp as the Cougars and seemed to be continually trying to find a solution to the WSU gameplan. While Oregon was able to trim the Cougars' lead at halftime to 42-27, the lead was a major obstacle in the final 20 minutes. Oregon had trouble with WSU in the previous two meetings with the tempo the Cougars set and on Thursday night in the fifth game of the Pac-10 Tournament the Ducks hadn't found an answer.

"We didn't come out with a whole lot of energy," said Maarty Leunen. "They (WSU) were breaking us down one-on-one and finding open guys like Washington State does…It came down to effort on the defensive end where we weren't getting too many stops."

The Ducks managed to make a game out of it in the second half and with just 1:24 on the clock Oregon trimmed the lead to 68-64 when Tajuan Porter hit a 3-pointer. Porter, last year's Most Valuable Player of the Pac-10 Tournament was the game's co-leading scorer with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting including 4-of-7 behind the 3-point line. Porter was 2-of-3 in free throw shooting. WSU though, did not lose its cool and kept control of tempo in the last 80 seconds of the game by hitting seven free throws while the Ducks could only foul hoping the Cougars would miss.

Both teams shot the ball well for the game. Oregon was 25-of-47 (53.2 percent) including 8-for-20 in 3s (40 percent) while WSU was 25-of-48 (52.1 percent) and 5-of-11 outside the 3-point arc. In the first half WSU managed to put up six more successful shots than the Ducks, who turned the ball over five more times than the Cougars. For the game Oregon had a total of 13 turnovers to WSU's 7. Both teams had a total of 26 rebounds (7 offensive 19 defensive) for the game.

Malik Hairston, also scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 1-of-2 in 3s. He also knocked down 5-of-6 in free throws. Leunen contributed 11 points and six rebounds. Those six boards gave him a career total of 896 boards and making him the second all-time leading rebounder in school history behind Greg Ballard (1,114/1973-77).

Low finished as the Cougar's top point producer with 18. Rochestie added 16 while Kyle Weaver had 14 and Robbie Cowgill had 12.

Now the Ducks await the decision of the NCAA selection committee. Kent was matter of fact about his team's chances saying that the decision will come down to things like strength of schedule but that there are "a lot of ingredients" in the decision. Kent point out the fact that Stanford was selected last year with a 18-12 record.

"I think it is going to come down to if they will want five, six or seven teams out of this conference," observed Kent of the Ducks' chances to advance on into the NCAA Tournament. "If they want six then we have a great shot at it, if they don't then there's nothing you can do about it."


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