PORTLAND, Oregon — The Ducks defeated DePaul 89-79 in their consolation match on Friday night from Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Payton Pritchard led the charge with a career-high 29 points in 41 minutes of action on the floor.
With the victory, UO will play Dana Altman’s former mentor Lon Kruger and the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. PT.
The game was tied on 11 different occasions on Friday, including nine lead changes between the two teams.
“We hit some shots,” said Altman. “Our ball movement was better.”
Similar to the Maui Invitational last season, the Ducks lost their first game only to win the second in overtime. This game reminded some of that instance.
“Told the guys, we had an overtime game vs Tennessee last year in the same game (consolation second round),” Altman replied. “You just have to find a way to win. We’re not playing well. We’re making a lot of mistakes. We’re a very talented team, but we’re not playing really good basketball.”
Oregon won on the fast break, 13-2, coupled with their unselfish play (17 team assists).
“That was a big difference,” said UO’s head coach. “Partly, that was my fault last night not demanding it (sharing the ball). It was better. 17-7 assists was a big indication of that.”
Elijah Brown hit a triple to cut the Duck deficit in half, 67-64.
Pritchard brought down the house with his bomb from beyond the arc. With his 22nd tally of the night, the Ducks took their first lead of the second half, 69-67, with 4:30 remaining.
Paul White buried three to give Oregon the advantage 75-71 with 2:23 left in the contest.
Kenny Wooten then fouled out on a tricky-tac call. It was compounded when White fouled out moments later. UO lost their interior presence and yielded four free ones that tied the game, 75-75.
“They had somewhat an advantage with the big man,” said White after the win. “But, Coach Altman did a good job putting us in the right spots, in the right defense to finally put that to an end.”
Pritchard missed the buzzer-beating game-winner at the end of regulation. A make would have caused the PK80 to find a new venue for Sunday because Veterans Memorial Coliseum would have crumbled to the ground.
“He’s been fortunate to be on a Final Four team as a freshman,” White said in reference to Pritchard. “He was able to learn a lot from those guys. Now with the young team we have, he’s trying to take those values and use them on this team. He’s been doing a pretty good job.”
In overtime, Pritchard continued to set nets ablaze with seven clutch points.
“With Payton, you just know he wants to win,” stated White. “Penetrating and kicking. Penetrating and spotting up. He’s going to do the things that it takes for this team to win.”
Overall, he concluded his best college game 9-of-16 from the field, perfect from the stripe (4-of-4) and 7-of-13 from downtown Portland. He added eight helpers and six rebounds.
“I thought he had some pretty good looks,” Oregon’s head coach stated in reference to his starting point guard. “The guys set some great, meaningful screens. I thought we took better 3’s tonight. Our dribble penetration was solid.”
DePaul was just 1-of-6 from the floor in overtime and couldn’t keep pace with the kid from Oregon. They were outscored 14-4 in the five-minute extra period.
Elijah Brown helped Oregon with his 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He hit two from deep, alongside six boards and three dimes in 35 minutes on the floor.
The Blue Demons started the second half on a 6-0 run, leading by as many as five points, 41-36. They held onto that lead well into the second half. In fact, they were up 64-58 with 7:20 left before the Ducks made their run.
Oregon finished the first half with eight of their final 11 field goals coming from deep.
As for Troy Brown, he had 11 points at the half with Pritchard. The true freshman found his groove early, burying 3-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-3 from 3-point territory. He added a team-high six boards, as well. He finished with 11 and nine rebounds.
A 7-2 DePaul run cut their deficit to one point heading to the locker room, 36-35. They were led by Eli Cain and his team-high 10 points on 50 percent shooting.
“At halftime, Coach put a big emphasis on rebounding,” replied White. “Being in the position I was in, I was able to crash at the right time. Luckily, we were able to convert on some of those offensive rebounds.”
Pritchard was scorching to start vs the Blue Demons. He was tied with Troy for a game-high 11 points after the first 20 minutes. The sophomore was 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-5 from downtown, alongside four dimes and three boards.
Dana Altman went with the same starting five as Thanksgiving night with Pritchard, Elijah, Troy, MiKyle McIntosh and White.
Victor Bailey Jr. was extremely solid on Friday, providing much-needed depth off the Duck bench. The true freshman from Texas ended his evening with 10 points, five boards and an assist.
White was instrumental during spurts against his hometown team from Chicago. The Georgetown transfer tallied 10 points, four rebounds and a dime before he fouled out of the game. He shot 50 percent (1-of-2) from behind the arc.
The Chicago product attended and won a state title at Whitney Young in high school. The same place where former NBA sharpshooter Quentin Richardson starred before his noteworthy college career at DePaul.
After the game, I asked White the significance behind this victory for him personally.
“It was extremely significant. There was no way I was going back to Chicago knowing DePaul beat me. If that was the case, my family would have to move,” White joked. “I would have to move. I couldn’t allow that to happen. I have to thank my teammates for this one. Thanks for reminding me.”
McIntosh had four points on 25 percent shooting, but was difficult to defend on the glass for the Blue Demons. The Canadian added three boards and two dimes.
Oregon shot 45 percent from the field (28-of-62), including 39 percent (15-of-39) from 3-point territory.
The Ducks won the battle in the paint, 40-24, even if at times it didn’t look like it on the scoreboard.
“We got to get better,” Altman said to conclude his press conference. “There is so much more in front of us.”
The defensive intensity was amplified for Altman’s bunch on Friday. They held DePaul to 21 percent (4-of-19) shooting from deep.
“They knew what they had on their team,” White stated. “Luckily, Coach Altman knew what he had on his."
DePaul had four players score in double figures. Marin Maric led the Blue Demons with a team-high 22 points on 7-of-11 from the floor.
Cain concluded with 19 points after his hot start. He was 7-of-18 in total, while adding six rebounds and four assists.
Max Strus was 5-of-13 on the night, tallying 15 points overall. He added two boards and a dime.
Devin Gage was the final player to score more than 10 points, finishing with 11 on 40 percent shooting. He was the lone Blue Demon to foul out of the game.
“We’ll try to grind out a win against Oklahoma,” Altman said. “The same thing with them. We both need this win. I’m sure it will be a very competitive game on Sunday morning. Finding a way to win today was important.”
Next up, Oregon (5-1) will play the Oklahoma Sooners (3-1) on the final day of action from the PK80 Invitational. Altman will face his mentor Lon Kruger. The consolation game will tip on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. PT from Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
For a complete breakdown of games in the Victory and Motion, you may click this link.