Oregon outlasts Washington State 62-59 to regain footing for stretch run
A corner triple from Will Richardson with a minute to play put the Ducks up 62-53 on Washington State Monday evening. It almost felt like a collective exhale.
After losing in stunning fashion to California on Saturday, Oregon found itself in must-win territory against a Cougar squad with markedly similar motivations. To make the NCAA Tournament, both will need to start stacking signature wins and avoid too many more losses. Washington State entered the game top-50 in the NET ranking.
Things were going well for Oregon in the first half, but Wazzu fought back in the second to make it a game. In the end, some timely buckets from outside and strong play from the Ducks’ interior bigs helped Oregon outlast Washington State 62-59.
A 12-2 run over the span of about 4:30 minutes late in the first half saw the Ducks go up 12. Whereas Saturday Oregon let its lack of outside shooting beget more outside shooting, the Ducks went inside with a little more frequency to help build up a 30-18 lead.
Oregon still struggled shooting the ball, to be clear, but a 34-22 advantage in the paint was a welcome sight despite the perimeter iciness.
Not so pleasant to begin the second half, though. Oregon missed its first eight shots, thrusting the door open for a Cougar comeback bid rather than shutting and locking it. Oregon didn’t score its first points of the second half until six minutes in, a De’Vion Harmon triple to halt a 10-0 run.
Washington State flipped a six-point deficit into a 43-38 lead with about 13 minutes to play before Oregon’s offense was finally able to steady the ship.
Harmon converted an and-one, Jacob Young got a jumper to fall, then Quincy Guerrier flushed home a dunk to cap a 7-0 strike in about 90 seconds and Oregon was back on top. It never trailed again.
N’Faly Dante and Franck Kepnang were key down the stretch. Dante finished with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double. Kepnang had nine points and four blocked shots in 20 minutes. All four rejections came in the second half, with a pair of crucial saves coming in the final four minutes.
Oregon shot 42% from the field and held the Cougars to 30% shooting. After taking that five-point lead with 13 to play, Oregon held WSU to just 4-of-27 shooting the rest of the way, their last eight shot attempts coming from beyond the 3-point line and away from Oregon’s rim protectors.
Harmon finished with 13 points and six boards, joining Dante as the only two players to reach double-figures scoring for the Ducks. Richardson was limited to seven points on 3-of-7 shooting.
Washington State was led by 23 points from Michael Flowers, though he shot 21 times to get those 23 points.
Oregon travels to Tempe to face Arizona State on Thursday (6 p.m. PT). Washington State, which has now lost three straight, plays at No. 13 UCLA on Thursday (8 p.m. PT).