For the second time in two weeks, the Ducks went to overtime against a University of California System school. And for the second time, the Ducks came out on top, surviving their final non-conference test against UC-Irvine, 69-97, at Matthew Knight Arena. The victory moves Oregon to 9-3 on the season.
Oregon started off the game hot, taking a 9-2 lead on five early points by Joseph Young. But the Anteaters were undeterred by Oregon's early success, and instead started to increase their intensity on their 2-3 zone. The zone caused the Ducks difficulty all night, as the Ducks committed 18 turnovers in the contest. Zones can often cause a defensive team to get lazy. Irvine was anything but. They got great movement on their zone all game, leading to a ton of easy buckets at the other end. By the end of the first half, the Anteaters had built a seven point lead.
There weren't many highlights for Oregon in that first half, though Dwayne Benjamin had this nice finish:
The second half didn't get a lot better, and Irvine actually extended the lead to 11 early. The Ducks continued to have trouble with the zone, struggling not just with turnovers, but in finding good shots overall. Oregon finally clawed their way back to a lead at the 7:55 mark, and held a one-point lead with 1:44 to go. But Oregon turned it over on three straight possessions, and Travis Souza hit a jumper to give Irvine a three-point lead with 24 seconds to go. The Ducks struggled to find a good shot, but Benjamin again had the highlight, nailing a game tying corner three with a hand in his face:
Irvine would miss a half-courter at the buzzer, sending the game to OT.
Unlike regulation, the Ducks controlled overtime against an Irvine team that looked like it was running out of gas. Nursing a one-point lead with 24 seconds left, Joseph Young hit an open three from the angle to give the Ducks a four-point lead and secure the win.
Oregon managed only 69 points against the Irvine zone, despite averaging over 80 points a game on the season. the Ducks shot only 42% and turned the ball over a whopping 18 times. The Anteaters only hit 42% in their own right. Oregon shot 6-20 from three, but nailed the two most clutch treys of the game.
Benjamin led the Ducks with a career high 18, Dillon Brooks scored 15 and Elgin Cook 14. Joseph Young scored 11, but his shooting woes continued, making only 4-11 shots. Jordan Bell had four blocks, and with 43 on the season, stands only eight blocks away from tying Tony Woods' single-season Oregon record.
Of note is that Jalil Abdul-Bassit did not suit up on his birthday tonight.
The Ducks now begin conference play, as they host Oregon State on Saturday night.