Well that was a wild game, that’s for sure. The Ducks prevailed over Washington 74-71, but not without a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde type of showing. Oregon looked dominant for the first half and for part of the second, but Washington never gave up, and a strong second half led to the Huskies pulling the score to one with under a minute left, and although the Ducks were able to pull out the win, it was closer than most would have expected and what Oregon no doubt would have liked.
Oregon started out strong, dominating in terms of points in the paint and rebounds, out-muscling the Huskies on a consistent basis. While Washington had the better night hitting shots from downtown, for most of the game the Ducks had their way on the interior. Oregon was able to force turnover after turnover, the Huskies repeated sloppiness resulted in 13 turnovers in the first half. Players like Chandler Lawson and Eugene Omoruyi were consistently able to knock down open looks in the middle of the floor against the Huskies 2-3 zone, and while Omoruyi struggled knocking down shots, he was a model of consistency from the free throw line. Quade Green kept Washington hanging around, but with Nate Roberts in foul trouble early, the Huskies lacked a consistent second option, and an 8-0 run in the last minute of the half put Oregon up 41-31 going into the halfway point.
Remember how fun the first half was? Didn’t Oregon look good? Well forget it, because the Ducks didn’t look like the same team for much of the second half. They struggled hitting shots, especially from downtown, they started turning the ball over much more frequently than the first, and a Quade Green/RaeQuan Battle second half-explosion allowed the Huskies to continually chip away at the lead the Ducks fought so hard to build until they were up by one with just under a minute to go. Green scored a career high 26 points, as he continually tore through the Ducks interior defense with ease, and Battle was hitting threes and shots at the basket, his 19 points almost matched the 20 he scored in the previous four games.
As the Huskies crept closer and closer to the Ducks, Chris Duarte Jr. hit a HUGE three-pointer and N’Faly Dante was able to make a number of key free throws in crunch time to stave off the Huskies. What most thought would be a blowout at halftime turned into a nail-biter that kept Ducks fans on the edge of our collective seats.
Phew that was close! There is always something about rivalries that always up the stakes, no matter what the teams record or level of talent, and we definitely saw that tonight. Washington looked nothing like the team that mustered only 42 points against UC Riverside and Oregon looked like two different teams in each half. But the Ducks fought hard, made big plays when absolutely called upon, and were able to leave Seattle with a hard-earned and well fought W.