Fresh off a humbling 72-58 defeat to USC Monday night, the Ducks of Oregon continued their tour of California when they clashed with the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto. Both teams came into tonight’s contest looking to make up for losses, as Stanford is looking to make up for their loss to Washington State last Saturday.
The Ducks got off to a bit of a slow start on offense, making only one of their first eight shots. After the loss to USC, this was exactly the kind of start Oregon didn’t want to have. Stanford wasn’t scoring at the pace USC did on Monday, but in the early going they looked a lot more prepared than the Ducks did. Stanford’s Daejon Davis had the hot hand early, as he scored six of the Cardinal’s first 10 points. Likewise, LJ Figueroa was putting in the work early to keep the Ducks in it, he had six of Oregon’s first eight points.
The Ducks took their first lead when Chris Duarte knocked down a three, he was quickly making an impact early with a couple steals, a block and a couple baskets. Another LJ three made it an 8-0 run as Oregon had completely stolen the momentum away from Stanford. A back-and-forth battle ensued, as neither team could pull away. When the Ducks made a basket, Stanford was there to counter with one of their own. With three minutes left, Oregon led the Cardinal 26-23. A quick 5-0 run for the Ducks pushed their lead to 31-23 and forced Stanford to call a timeout. The Ducks have looked much more settled than their loss Monday, their ball movement was crisp and their defense was giving Stanford fits.
The Cardinal were able to mount a small run of their own, but LJ Figueroa hits the last shot of the half to put Oregon up by five going into the break. LJ was leading the Ducks with 13 points on 50% shooting, including hitting three of his six three-point attempts. Davis and Spencer Jones were leading the Cardinal with six points apiece.
The initial goings of the second half were all Stanford, a 6-0 run gave them back the lead as Oregon couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end. Oregon finally scored after a few minutes, but they struggled with turnovers early on and Chris Duarte had to leave the game briefly after taking a shot to the face. A few threes by Omoruyi and Williams kept the Ducks in the game, but they still trailed the Cardinal by one.
Oregon was able to retake the lead when Chandler Lawson nailed a couple of free throws, the first ones they had taken all game. The lead didn’t last long, as a 7-0 Stanford run put them up by four with 11 minutes to go. Duarte came alive in the second half, he scored 9 straight points, but the Ducks were still down by three as Stanford was able to match Oregon shot for shot. Duarte’s hot night continued, Stanford had no answer for him, his tally was up to 21 with a three that gave Oregon the lead back with three minutes left.
Stanford made it a one point game with a minute left, but a couple Duarte free throws put the Ducks back up by three. Then with a one point game, Williams grabbed a huge rebound off a Duarte three and the Ducks called timeout with 11 seconds left. Stanford fouled Duarte on the inbounds pass, and Chris made one of his two shots to put Ducks up 70-68 with just six seconds left. Stanford’s Ziaire Williams missed a three, and the ensuing foul on Omoruyi gave the Ducks a 71-68 lead that they would not relinquish. The Ducks rebound from a tough loss against USC with a hard-fought win over Stanford, and they’ll take on Cal this Saturday.
Obviously the biggest takeaway is Chris Duarte’s second-half explosion. He scored 17 points in the second half, proving that when he gets going, there are few that can slow him down or even keep up with him. But his performance wasn’t all scoring the ball. With 2 steals and 2 blocks, he brings the same effort on defense that he does on offense. Will Richardson struggled in this game, making only one of his seven shots, Oregon will need him to bounce back if they want to beat Cal. Other than Richardson, all of Oregon’ starters hit double digits in scoring, and while this lineup isn’t especially tall, it’s easily Oregon’s most talented and should be who Oregon plans on starting for the rest of the season.