By: Ryan Milano
The Ducks came into Thursday night’s contest against the Trojans .5 games back of a share of the top spot in the PAC-12 standings. The only thing between Oregon and the conference lead was the USC Trojans. The Trojans came in 4-1 in PAC-12 play and were tied with Stanford atop the rankings after defeating the Cardinal just days prior.
Oregon jumped out to an 8 point lead early, but let USC chip away going into the half with only a 32-30 lead. The 2nd half closely parodied the first as this time Oregon jumped out to an 11 point lead with only 8 minutes left to play, but once again relinquished that lead thanks to a 17-2 run for the Trojans led by Onyeka Okongwu and capped off by a Jonah Mathews 3 pointer. Down 2 points with under a minute remaining, the ball found itself in a similar spot it has all season for the Ducks, the hands of Payton Pritchard. Pritchard converted at the cup to tie the game, and one of Chris Duarte’s 8 steals in the contest gave Oregon the ball back with the chance to score on the final shot. The Ducks failed to get a good look, and the game headed to Overtime. Scoring was minimal in the first overtime, and Payton Pritchard once again found the ball in his hands with a chance to win, but the 15 foot jumper clanged off back iron sending the game into 5 more minutes of bonus basketball. Oregon came out firing in the second overtime finding themselves at the free throw line for 4 attempts, sinking all 4. A Chris Duarte 3 pointer, and steal on the defensive end were the final nail in the coffin for USC giving the Ducks the victory.
It was a big day for 3 of the Ducks players tonight. Chandler Lawson got his first start as a collegiate athlete, and finished his night with 9 points and 5 rebounds. Payton Pritchard, with his 24 points, 7 assists, and 2 rebounds stat line, became the first player in PAC-12 history to amass 1,500 points, 600 assists, and 500 rebounds in his career. However, the star of the night was undoubtedly Chris Duarte. Duarte finished the night with 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 steals. The latter of which is a Matthew Knight Arena record, and 1 steal shy of the program record. That is also the first time this century that a player has put up 30, 11, and 8, The last Division 1 player to do so, Alvin Young for the Niagara Purple Eagles on January 30th 1999.
Oregon after this win finds themselves in a tie for the top of the PAC-12 standings with Stanford. Oregon has headed to Overtime in 5 of their 20 games so far this season, and 3 of their 7 PAC-12 contests have needed extra time to settle the score. Oregon is back in action Sunday for a 2:00 PT tip-off against the UCLA Bruins.
Audio Story: Ryan Milano