SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Tyler Dorsey led No. 3 Oregon over No. 11 Rhode Island, 75-72, in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The sophomore recorded a game-high 27 points and the eventual game-winning triple with 38.5 seconds. With the victory, Oregon advances to the Sweet 16 for their second consecutive season.
The Ducks move their incredibly impressive record to 31-5 on the season. It is the greatest single-season in Oregon basketball history.
Only Villanova (67) and Kansas (63) have more total wins than Oregon (62) over the last two years. The reigning national champions, Kansas and the Ducks are the only teams in college basketball with 30 wins or more the last two seasons.
“It was just a great moment for us,” said Dorsey. “They put the ball in my hands and I just made big shots. We came together as a team in the second half when we got stops and rebounds. I’m just happy to move on, it was a tough one.”
Oregon leads the nation in buzzer-beating shots this season. With 40 seconds or under, the Ducks have walked away victorious after four separate game-winning 3-pointers.
Back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances were accomplished on 48 percent shooting from the field. Yet, it was their incredible shooting from downtown (43 percent) and their 22 second-chance points that buoyed the comeback. Oregon outscored Rhode Island, 36-27, in the second half.
“Our turnovers in the first half put us in a bad hole,” said head coach Dana Altman. “We had 10 turnovers and they scored 16 points off those. The second half we had four turnovers and five points off those turnovers. I thought that was really significant. The stat that jumps out at you is we had 22 second-chance points”
The Quack Attack needed to make a giant comeback if they wanted to keep their season alive. And UO did just that, trailing by as many as 11 points to URI, 56-45, in the second half.
Oregon’s defense tightened at the end of the game, setting them up with the ball late. As the clock hit 38.5 seconds, Dorsey’s shot was pouring through the net.
“They call him Mr. March (Dorsey). When March comes around, he’s a different breed,” said Dylan Ennis. “He’s playing smart basketball, better basketball. I don’t think he’s doing anything different. Around this time, he comes into his own and I don’t complain.”
The Ducks grabbed the lead and the game thanks to the sophomore’s torrid stretch of five straight with 20 points or more.
“It’s a 40-minute fight and we played it until the end,” said Dorsey. “It’s never over.”
California’s finest finished with an absurd 9-for-10 line from the field. He was 4-for-5 from deep, and hit the two big ones. Dorsey was 5-for-9 from the charity stripe.
“I was joking with him, ‘9 for 10? How did you miss that one shot?’” Altman said with a smile. “Tyler really finished our plays for us, but it’s a team effort.”
A late 20-10 Duck run was highlighted by Dillon Brooks. The star forward willed his way to the rim, scoring or drawing fouls when needed. He buried clutch 3-pointers and drew the defense to him, opening up teammates on the outside.
“It’s a big moment,” Dorsey stated. “All those nights in the gym...”
Brooks’ 19 points were second on the team, but he led in every other way possible. DB fought through struggles from the field, missing 13 of his 20 attempts. Yet, he grabbed seven boards and was perfect from the charity stripe (3-for-3).
Oregon shutdown URI at the end. They closed the game on a 15-6 run, as Dorsey fittingly buried the final tally.
“He (Dorsey) was attacking the rim like a beast and was keeping us in the game,” said Brooks. “He’s stepping up his game. He’s locked in, he’s focused. I knew he always had it in him. I been telling him all year he’s our x-factor. He can be one of the best players on the floor. Everyone has the most trust in him. He led us today.”
The fast break was on as Dorsey led Payton Pritchard and Jordan Bell on the outside. This was the Oregon Ducks offense we had been watching all year. Not the team that was in Oregon uniforms the first 30 minutes of Sunday’s affair. Dorsey looked to his right and dished to the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year on his left, who finished accordingly. Oregon trailed by one point, 66-65.
A gigantic 4-point swing in URI’s favor gave them a 72-68 lead with three minutes left in the showdown. Dorsey missed two crucial free throws and Jared Terrell drilled a jump shot on the other end, as the Rams reassumed a 4-point advantage.
The Ducks miraculously answered back with a 4-point possession of their own, knotting the game up, 72-72.
“Me, Dylan and Payton were making some plays at the end to help us out,” said Brooks.
Dylan Ennis missed the second of his two free throws, but Bell was there for not one, but two offensive boards. The latter led to an assist after hitting Dorsey in the corner for the trifecta.
“The stat that jumps out at you is we had 22 second-chance points,” Altman said. “None bigger than the one we missed the free throw and Jordan Bell got the rebound. And, then Tyler hit the big three to tie it up.”
The senior, once again, logged a game-high 37 minutes. Ennis responded with seven points, five rebounds and four assists.
Even with their star big man Hassan Martin out a majority of the game with foul trouble, the Rams offense was unbelievable. Literally, you could not believe the shots that were going in at certain moments.
“It’s a fresh new tournament for us,” Brooks stated.
URI drilled their final 11-of-13 shots to end the first half. At the break, the No. 11 seed led by eight points, 46-38. For the game, Rhode Island shot 50 percent from the field.
Martin was held scoreless for the game in 14 minutes of foul-plagued action. With that, Oregon was able to reassert themselves on the glass after a slow start, 35-28.
“We know we can't play lackadaisical against a good Rhode Island team,” stated Dorsey. “Now we got Michigan. We’re going to go back home and celebrate a little bit, but we’re not happy, we’re not satisfied. We want to get back to the Elite Eight and further.”
Oregon’s defense could not stop the Rams at all costs in the first 30 minutes. This game truly exhibited the impact of Chris Boucher’s absence from the defense.
The Ducks shot terribly from the free throw line. UO made just 18-of-27 attempts for a rough 66 percent at the stripe. Oregon needs to clean this up before next weekend.
Stanford Robinson was the x-factor of the game, scoring a career-high 21 points off the bench for the Rams. He truly kept URI in the game.
Jared Terrell was once again the URI workhorse with a team-high 36 minutes played. He was hitting everything, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-11 from the floor. He added six dimes, four steals and three boards.
EC Matthews was solid in the first half, but faded late. The star guard scored 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting. He added four rebounds and three crucial turnovers.
“That defense we faced is as good as any defense we faced all year,” Altman said. “We were very fortunate today with our turnovers to get that done.”
Bell ripped down 12 rebounds for the Ducks, alongside six points, two dimes, two enormous blocked shots and a stolen pass.
The Duck bench of Casey Benson, Kavell Bigby-Williams and Keith Smith combined to register 11 total points. Yet, their contributions were solid and felt more in reality than through statistical input.
Next up for No. 3 Oregon (31-5) is the upstart No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (26-11) in the third round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines are currently the hottest team in the nation after their near-plane crash last week. The Sweet 16 contest will tip at 4:09 p.m. PT on Thursday from Kansas City, Missouri. It will be televised by CBS.
“Seeds don’t matter. Michigan is a tough team. They play hard. They won the B1G 10 Tournament. They’re a well-coached team. They know how to win,” said Brooks.
Tyler Dorsey drains game-winning bucket from downtown with 38.5 seconds left in the game against No. 11 Rhode Island.