Ducks Struggle, Come Out On Top

To steal a line from the great announcer Bill Schonley, "nobody said it was going to be easy." It was far from easy Monday night as the number nine University of Oregon Ducks fought their way to an 86-77 win over the Cal State Northridge Matadors in Eugene.

Oregon started out the first half much as they did last night, struggling to get anything to go down and allowing their opponent to get some early buckets. Outside of a couple key Ian Crosswhite baskets, Oregon was not able to get much going offensively and trailed 15-13 with 11:40 to go after Northridge guard Justice Graham nailed a three pointer.

Also, much like last night, Oregon struggled on the boards in the first half. Northridge held the advantage on the glass after the first period, 17-13.

"Blocking out and rebounding the basketball need to be addressed by this basketball team," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN after the game.

As sloppy as the first half play was Oregon still held the lead 36-31 going into the intermission.

The story of the second half was that the first half gave the Matadors the confidence to play with Oregon. They came out hot and took the lead on repeated occasions.

"They battled us, they came after us, and in a building that we've had a lot of success in they didn't slow down," Kent said. "We didn't respond at times during the game."

The Ducks started to bring it together though, behind the efforts of Robert Johnson and Brian Helquist down low. After the big men got Oregon back on track, the Luke Show started back up as Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson started hitting shots putting the Matadors away.

Northridge was led on the scoreboard by Ian Boylan with 13 points. Curtis Slaughter, Justice Graham and Armand Thomas all added 12 points, and John Clark and Chris Davis scored 11 and 10 points respectively.

Oregon's Luke Jackson led all scorers on the night with 23 points on only 5-13 shooting from the floor. Jackson did go 12-12 from the free throw line however. Luke Ridnour finished with 19 points and nine assists. Robert Johnson added 12 points and 10 rebounds, recording his first double-double of the year. James Davis also had 12 points, and Brian Helquist had 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Matadors move to 1-2 for the season, and will next face Howard University on December 1st in Northridge.

Tonight's win gave Oregon the Championship for the John Thompson Basketball Challenge. Luke Ridnour was named the tournament MVP. The Ducks' next opponent will be the Pacific Tigers. They will travel to Mac Court on November 30th and will face off with the Ducks at 7:00 p.m.

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