(PHOTO) Michael Dunigan (33) shoots against Tyreese Breshers on Thursday night at McArthur Court in Eugene. (Photo by Kaly Harward)
For the first 20 minutes of the game, the Ducks played with the kind of aggressiveness, fire, and execution that was displayed in victories on the road in Los Angeles against USC and UCLA last weekend. However, the second half was a separate issue Thursday night as the Ducks hung tough, but failed to make enough "basketball plays" to turn fortune in their favor.
In Oregon's losses recently, failure to convert free throws, make open jump shots, or snare key rebounds has been the team's bugaboo. Once again, Oregon head coach Ernie Kent, made no bones about his team's inability to come through when it really counted.
"We left way too many basketball plays out on the floor, exclaimed Kent,
"Give Washington credit. I thought Pondexter had a wonderful game...they made a lot of plays on the floor, but we did not shoot the ball very well and we left a lot of basketball plays on the floor."
The difference in the game was the Huskies' ability to score freely in transition, outscoring the Ducks 16 to 2 in fast break points. As Kent alluded to, Fresno, Calif. native Quincy Pondexter had arguably his best game of the season, pouring in a game high 34 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists.
"He's the Pac-10 player of the year in my vote, said Oregon senior guard Tajuan Porter,
"He's dominant. During warm-ups, coach said he was the only guy down there focused and he showed it. He hit almost every shot."
It was truly a tale of two halves for the Ducks who shot 50% from the field in the first half before going cold and only converting on 11 of their 40 field goal attempts in the second half. Porter led the Ducks in scoring with 18 points and inched a bit closer to Salim Stoudamire's conference career record for three-pointers, hitting two, which leaves him seven shy of the record with at least two games left to play. Sophomore center Michael Dunigan was Oregon's other double figure scorer contributing 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
Saturday's game against Washington State not only marks the final Pac-10 game that will be played at McArthur Court, but it also marks Senior Day and final home appearance for both Porter and injured senior forward Joevan Catron. In particular, Kent singled out Porter, expounding upon his accomplishments and the integral role his has played in elevating the basketball program at the University of Oregon.
"Here is somebody that was the catalyst for out Elite Eight team and was a guy who helped us get back to the tournament again in his second year, said Kent,
"We have struggled, obviously, these last two years, but you look at a guy who hopefully could be the conference's leading three-point shooter...he's left a great legacy here and he's done a lot for Oregon basketball."
Oregon closes out the regular season against the Cougars, Saturday evening. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m.
Huskies Escape From Eugene With Win
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