Duck fans got to celebrate the end of 2020 by watching the Ducks and the Golden Bears duke it out at Matthew Knight Arena, resulting in a 82-69 victory for Oregon! The win is the seventh straight for the Ducks, while Cal drops to 5-5.
The Ducks game out of the gate strong, going on a 7-0 run before Cal made it’s first basket, and at the first break, Oregon led 16-9. All of Cal’s first three baskets were three pointers, and Cal hitting their threes continued to a trend throughout the first half. Throughout the first half, Oregon was able to force the Bears into turnovers and found success in the mid-range and post, while Cal was hitting the Ducks with a barrage of three pointers.
Cal’s trigger-man Matt Bradley caught fire, it seemed every time he had the ball at the top of the key, he was drilling a shot with a Duck in his face. Bradley scored 15 first half-points and didn’t miss any of his shots behind the arc. While Cal was catching fire as the first half wore on, Oregon started cooling off, their lead slipped away as they went over five minutes without a made field goal.
Cal took advantage of the shift in momentum, taking the score to 30-26 with around three minutes to go. Even though Oregon had their struggles on offense, Eugene Omoruyi and Eric Williams Jr. were able to muster enough to keep Oregon close, and then with less than 6 seconds left in the half, it happened. Aaron Estrada picked off a Cal pass, took it up the floor, and heaved a deep three as the buzzer expired, and nailed it!! The buzzer-beater gave the Ducks a 36-35 lead going into the half.
Both Oregon and Cal came out swinging in the second half, with Cal taking a four point lead, only for Oregon to steal the lead back by creating turnovers and letting Omoruyi continue to shine, he had 19 points at the 14 minute mark in the half. Oregon’s defense was able to continue to give the Bears fits, using their full-court press to make Cal uncomfortable and continue to create turnovers. While Oregon’s style of defense can sometimes leave them vulnerable to mismatches, they also create a lot of opportunities to take the ball away and create easy scoring opportunities on the other end.
Despite Oregon’s intensity, Cal was able to keep up with the Ducks, due to their three-point shooting. As of the the seven minute mark, the Bears had hit 50% of their shots from downtown. After some back and forth scoring, Oregon was able to widen the gap after a pair of back-to-back Chris Duarte threes, the 71-62 lead was the largest of the night for either team. Duarte caught fire as the second half went on, hitting three after three, and was key to Oregon putting the game away. It also helped the Ducks that while Matt Bradley was carrying the Bears with 15 points in the first half, he only scored 6 in the second half, the Ducks stifling defense was too much for Cal to overcome.
While much of the first half didn’t go quite the way the Ducks wanted, they were able to force their will on Cal in the second half, and that resulted in Oregon pulling away with a big win to close out the year. To all Ducks fans, have a Happy New Year!