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No. 11 Ducks grind out conference battle in Berkeley, taking down the Golden Bears 77-72

Go Ducks!

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at California D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

BERKELEY, Calif. — Payton Pritchard became No. 11 Oregon’s all-time leader in assists with 615 as the senior helped the Ducks win on the road, aided by outstanding guard play.

It definitely wasn’t Oregon’s prettiest game ever played, but nonetheless they came out of Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, California with the victory. Oregon’s guards pulled most of the weight throughout Thursday’s game; like clockwork, JUCO transfer Chris Duarte caught fire in the first half going 2-for-2 from beyond the arch, scoring 11 points before the half. Over the last three games, Duarte has averaged 24.3 PPG, 7.0 REB and 2.0 AST.;

Duarte held the Ducks in the game heading into the second half. Oregon’s struggles defending the three became evident early on. Cal junior forward Grant Anticevich was 2-of-2 from three and helped the Golden Bears nearly take a 32-30 lead into the second half, but Will Richardson had other plans. With a stagnant offense and seconds remaining in the half, Richardson split the defense, spinning between two Cal defenders to find an easy two in the lane.

Pritchard took over the game in the second half nearly from the jump. Oregon’s new all-time leader in assists broke open the game with two straight threes giving the Ducks a 38-32 lead.

He put the team on his back again to give Oregon the lead, but it would soon be lost with the routine defensive breakdowns in the press. Pritchard would receive help from none other than Richardson who cut the lead down to five with a three from the top of the key.

Soon after Pritchard would get his program leading 615th assist off of a dish to Anthony Mathis to the wing for a 61-58 lead.

The comeback signaled new found energy, Oregon went off on a 17-5 run with less than 10 minutes remaining to close the game out. Cal gave a valiant effort in the closing minutes, but Oregon’s run was insurmountable.

The triple threat of Pritchard, Duarte and Richardson totaled 55 of the Ducks 77 points. Head coach, Dana Altman has been relying on his veteran guards over the course of Oregon’s conference play. With N’Faly Dante out for his third-straight game, Oregon’s forwards occasionally seem lost out on the floor. The big’s offense and physical presence has been sorely missed over the last couple weeks and it’s being felt upfront.

With the road win Oregon moves to 7-2 in the conference and face the 15-4 Stanford Cardinal, led by forward Oscar Da Silva. The Ducks move up to first place in the conference standings as they head off to Stanford for their final game in California before hitting their last road stop in Corvallis, Oregon.