In another thrilling March Madness game, the No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks survived a tough battle against the No. 9 seed St. Joseph's Hawks 69-64 in Spokane on Sunday night to advance to the Sweet 16. The Ducks will face the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday.
The Ducks saw a double digit lead get wiped away, but didn't panic and closed out the game strong. Dillon Brooks had a monster performance, scoring 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting while Elgin Cook added 18 points with four rebounds and four assists. Tyler Dorsey also had a big night, scoring 14 points.
The Ducks shot just 39.6 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc, but tough defense down the stretch is what saved the game for Oregon. St. Joseph's didn't fare much better from the field, shooting 38.6 percent from the field as a team and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. The big difference came at the free throw line where Oregon hit 21 of their 25 shots, including those in the final minute to seal the win.
The Ducks got out to a quick lead early, going ahead 7-2 in the first few minutes. Dillon Brooks got going early, hitting a long three-pointer at the offensive end and then stepped into the lane at the other end to take a charge. The Ducks were also able to build the early lead thanks to forcing three turnovers in the first four minutes, something they also were able to do against Holy Cross.
Oregon's offense then went cold, missing six of their next seven shots. This allowed St. Joseph's to hang with the Ducks, despite not doing much early on the offensive end. The Ducks also got in a little foul trouble as Dwyane Benjamin committed a pair of fouls less than midway through the first half and had to head off to the bench, frustrated by the calls.
Benjamin is ticked after second foul. Goes to the bench and slaps the seat and knocks over his water bottle.— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG) March 21, 2016
In the first half, Dillon Brooks surpassed 1,000 career points, becoming the first ever Duck to do so during his sophomore season.
Knowing that Oregon is more of an athletic team rather than a physical one, the Hawks took it to the paint early, scoring their first 10 points from inside. Their first basket from outside the paint came with 9:27 left when Aaron Brown hit a 3-pointer as time was running out on the shot clock.
Later in the first half, Jordan Bell had one of the best blocks of the tournament, delivering a vicious rejection against James Demery that brought the crowd to its feet. The Ducks shattered their school record for blocks in a season, and plays like that one by Jordan Bell were a big part of it all year.
While the Ducks weren't shooting well in the first half, they were getting to the free throw line often and making the most of it. Oregon went to the double bonus with over four minutes to play and at the final media timeout of the first half, the Ducks had built their lead up to eight points with 3:35 to go.
St. Joseph's made a late run in the half, cutting Oregon's lead down to five points at the break after going on a 7-2 run in the final three minutes.
Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field in the first half, but the Ducks shot better at the free throw line, which allowed them to take the lead into the half. The Hawks also struggled to hang onto the ball, committing eight turnovers compared to just two turnovers for Oregon.
As the Hawks finished off a 10-2 run stemming from the first half, the Ducks scored five straight points, included a wide open three-pointer from Dillon Brooks, to go back up by seven early in the second half. But overall, both teams still had yet to figure out their shooting issues at this point.
MBB | Both teams' shooting woes rollover to the second half, combining to go 6/18 from the field 4 minutes in. UO up 39-35.— KWVA Sports (@KWVASports) March 21, 2016
The Ducks built their lead back up to seven points when Dillon Brooks completed a 3-point play, despite probably getting away with a travel. On the next possession, Brooks drained a three-pointer to put the Ducks back up by double digits. A ferocious block from Brooks on the next defensive possession got the very pro-Oregon crowd fired up.
Huge effort from Dillon Brooks the last few trips. Two threes and then a block on a 1-on-3 SJU fast break. Huge. Let's out a loud "LETS GO"— Matt Prehm (@Prehmmr247) March 21, 2016
During that run, the Hawks didn't hit a basket for four and a half minutes, missing 10 of 11 shots. But continuing with the back and forth theme, St. Joseph's then went on an 10-0 run to tie the game at 45-45 with 10:08 to go.
St. Joe's has tied the game and they're shooting worse than they were in the first half. 33 percent.— Tyson Alger (@tysonalger) March 21, 2016
With eight minutes left, DeAndre' Bembry hit a three-pointer to give St. Joseph's their first lead of the game. Despite the game still being close, all of the momentum had shifted to the Hawks' side. The Ducks weren't getting any favors from the refs either as eight straight calls against the Ducks put St. Joseph's in the bonus with 6:16 to go.
St. Joseph's continued to build their lead, going on an 8-0 run in a span of two minutes to take a 58-51 lead with just over five minutes to go in the half.
When Oregon needed a big play the most, Dillon Brooks delivered another three-point play to make it 58-54. Then, with two and a half minutes to go, Tyler Dorsey followed a missed shot by Elgin Cook for the put-back layup to tie the game at 58-58 as part of a 7-0 run for the Ducks. Dorsey then hit a three-pointer to put the Ducks back on top with just over a minute and a half to play.
And followed up by a three. Rare for a freshman to have such a scorers mentality, especially when surrounded by the talent at UO.— Preston Hiefield (@PC_Hiefield) March 21, 2016
Dillon Brooks then chipped in a clutch three-pointer of his own to put the Ducks up 64-62 with 1:19 to play.
Brooks. 64-62, ducks lead. pic.twitter.com/J8gjc8WTD0— Brianna Amaranthus (@BriAmaranthus) March 21, 2016
On their next possession, St. Joseph's couldn't get a shot off and turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. Elgin Cook would draw a foul and hit both free throws to put Oregon up 66-62 with 35 seconds left to play. DeAndre' Bembry would answer back with a quick layup to make it a two point game.
After Casey Benson missed a free throw, the Hawks trailed by three with the shot clock turned off. DeAndre' Bembry tried to do too much and wound up turning the ball over. Tyler Dorsey came up with the ball and sunk both free throws to seal the deal.