The Oregon Ducks struggled late from the free throw line trying to close out another close Pac-12 contest on Thursday night, surviving a double-overtime thriller at Pauley Pavilion in a 87-83 win over the UCLA Bruins.
Joseph Young led the Ducks in scoring with 26 points while Jason Calliste added 18 points (15 in the first half alone) off the bench. Richard Amardi and Mike Moser also hit double figures in scoring with 12 points each.
For the Bruins, Bryce Alford and Zach LaVine stepped up in place of Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson who were serving a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Alford led the way with 31 points while LaVine added 18 more.
The Ducks managed to get inside scoring early against UCLA with each of their first six points coming in the paint. Normally, Oregon is forced to rely on outside shooting, so being able to get to the rim was a promising start.
Waverly Austin also got off to a good start with three offensive rebounds in the opening minutes. Going into Thursday’s game, Austin had just three offensive rebounds in Pac-12 play this season.
Despite getting inside scoring, the Ducks struggled from the field early, shooting just 3-11. The game had started so sloppy that Bill Walton started talking about how he had tried to walk out of UCLA’s engineering school with a free pair of the Google Glass. Jason Calliste ended the drought with a pair of three-pointers after checking into the game to put Oregon up 12-6.
The Ducks struggled on the fast break as well. On back-to-back possessions, Oregon pushed the ball down court with numbers. Both times, the Ducks forced up layups and would come up short. Luckily Calliste was on fire from deep, hitting another three-pointer to put Oregon up 19-11 at the under-8 timeout.
Oregon extended their lead to double digits two minutes later. After an air-balled three-pointer from Noah Young, Joseph Young hit a pair of threes on consecutive possessions to give the Ducks a 25-14 lead.
Calliste found some more creative ways to come up with three-point plays, including a wild "attempt" at a three, drawing the foul while flailing his arms in a display that would make a soccer player proud.
A baseline jumper from Richard Amardi extending Oregon’s lead to 14 points, their largest of the night to that point. At halftime, the Ducks would lead 37-25.
Once again, it was Oregon’s bench carrying the load as Jason Calliste shot 4-5 from the field for 15 points in the first half. Amardi added in eight points as the pair combined for 23 of Oregon’s 37 first half points. Young and Damyean Dotson were the only other Ducks to score with 10 and four points, respectively.
UCLA was certainly missing the presence of suspended guards Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. The duo is averaging a combined 32.1 points per game. In the first half, the Bruins shot just 30.8 percent from the field while the Ducks shot 39.3 percent, including 50.0 percent from beyond the arc on 6-12 shooting. Four of those six shots came from the hot hand of Richard Amardi. Oregon would finish the night shooting 35.7 percent from deep after shooting 25 percent in the second half.
After going scoreless against the Bruins in Eugene and in the first half on Thursday, Mike Moser opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer to put the Ducks up by 15.
Six unanswered points, including a three-pointer from Bryce Alford and a trio of free throws from Travis Wear brought the Bruins back to within nine after a pair of fouls on Waverly Austin sent Wear to the line.
After a pair of free throws from Norman Powell, the Bruins would go without a basket for over four minutes, allowing the Ducks to build their lead back up to 14 points midway through the second half.
After two consecutive layups and a three-point play from Powell which also gave Amardi his fourth foul, the Bruins suddenly trailed by just five points.
After missing eight of nine three-point attempts, Joseph Young supplied a deep basket for his first points of the half to extend Oregon’s lead back out to eight.
UCLA cut Oregon’s lead down to three after a three-point play from Zach LaVine as part of a 16-5 run for the Bruins.
With 3:02 remaining, Richard Amardi went down, giving the Bruins a 5-on-4 edge on the other end of the court. Amardi and Jason Calliste collided, and Amardi had to be taken to the bench to be looked at by trainers to stop the bleeding around his eyebrow.
A foul from Jonathan Loyd gave UCLA three free throws at the line. Bryce Alford hit all three, bringing the Bruins back to within two. Not quite sure what it is with Loyd and bad late decisions against UCLA this year.
With Oregon leading by two with 1:43 to go, Jason Calliste hit a clutch three-pointer to put the Ducks back up by two possessions, forcing the Bruins to start fouling. Johnathan Loyd hit a pair of free throws to extend Oregon’s lead back to seven points.
Just as it appeared Oregon was starting to wrap up the game, Joseph Young missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt. The Bruins took advantage with a patient shot by Bryce Alford, waiting for Johnathan Loyd to leap past him on a wild and uncontrolled attempt to contest the shot. The three-pointer cut Oregon’s lead back down to three.
The Ducks finally got a lucky break when Alford missed a three-pointer that would’ve brought UCLA back to within one.
Jason Calliste had a chance to put the game away at the free throw line. Calliste, an 85-percent free throw shooter, missed not one, but both free throws. Alford responded with a three-pointer to cut Oregon’s lead to one.
What happened next, there are no words for, but forming words here is technically our job, so we’ll give it a shot.
With Oregon leading 69-68, Joseph Young went to the free throw line. As needed, Young hit the first one. UCLA had no timeouts with 1.3 seconds to go, so you’d assume that Young would intentionally miss the free throw in order to force UCLA to throw up a prayer, right? Wrong. Young made the second free throw, giving UCLA five free seconds to set up a pass down court.
Tyler Wear found his brother David down court unguarded and delivered a pass with Mariota-like accuracy. David Wear nailed the three at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, the two teams scored just two points each in a five minute span filled with missed shots. Joseph Young had a chance at a potential game-winning shot, but forced up an ugly three to send the game into a second overtime.
The Ducks came up with two clutch shots in the second over time with a three from Young and a mid range jumper from Moser to give Oregon an 80-77 lead with 1:39 to play.
With 39.8 seconds to go, Mike Moser drew a shooting foul to send him to the line. Moser would miss the first but hit the second, giving UCLA the ball down by two. A missed layup from Bryce Alford gave the Ducks a fast break chance, sending Elgin Cook to the line. Cook hit both shots to give Oregon a four point lead with 27 seconds left.
After a pair of free throws from Zach LaVine, Johnathan Loyd and Elgin Cook would hit all of their free throws to wrap up the win. In a twist of fate, Oregon actually managed to seal the win at the free throw line.
Oregon will face USC on Saturday in their final road game of the regular season before returning to Eugene to take on the Arizona schools. Fortunately for the Ducks, USC is at the cellar of the Pac-12 with a 1-14 conference record.
Now, please excuse me while I go recover from my multiple heart attacks from this game.