Oregon defeats Rhode Island behind Dorsey’s big game
SACRAMENTO — Forty minutes of game time can be overshadowed by one moment.
On Sunday, that moment belonged to Tyler Dorsey.
No.3 seed Oregon (31-5) defeated No.11 seed Rhode Island (25-10) 75-72, thanks to some late-game heroics from Dorsey in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night. The Ducks will advance to the Sweet-16 for the second consecutive year — a school first.
With 38 seconds left and the game tied at 72, Dorsey stepped into a contested three at the top of the key to put Oregon up 75-72. Rhode Island tried to answer but missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the closing seconds.
Dorsey finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting including four 3-pointers.
Oregon actually jumped out to a lead early in the first half, but Rhode Island fought back and led by 12 at halftime.
The key to Rhode Island’s first-half success was its physical play. The Rams suffocated Oregon’s offense and forced the Ducks into 10 first-half turnovers.
But Oregon responded after halftime. The Ducks came out more aggressive but were unable to cut into Rhode Island’s lead for most of the second half.
With 9:57 left in the game and down by four, Jordan Bell checked back in for Kavell Bigby-Williams. At that point, the five players on the floor for Oregon were Payton Pritchard, Dorsey, Dylan Ennis, Dillon Brooks and Bell. Head coach Dana Altman never subbed again.
“He was just confident in the bunch that was in,” Brooks said. “He was just letting the game flow. He’s a good coach and he knows what he is doing.”
For the final nine-minute stretch, Oregon outscored Rhode Island 18-11. Brooks hit two threes and Dorsey added two more.
“I never get worried. We overcame stuff like this all year,” Bell said. “Second half, we buckled down and slowly tried to keep chipping away.”
Dorsey will get the attention, as he should, but it was Bell who grabbed the offensive rebounds that led to the crucial Dorsey game-tying and game-winning threes.
“I got it, I see [Dorsey] in the corner … I see they don’t notice [Dorsey] in the corner, I faked a drive and just kicked to him and let him do what he do,” Bell said.
At halftime, Altman reportedly kicked out the CBS camera crew and addressed his team on the lack of intensity and harped too many turnover numbers. It was more yelling than strategy. Clearly, though, that’s all the Ducks needed.
“Coach kicked the camera crew and just went ham on us,” Brooks said. “That’s what we needed. We needed some motivation and some yelling.”
The Ducks, a team that is normally careful with the ball, was sloppy in the first half. Credit Rhode Island’s defense for forcing a number of turnovers. Pritchard, Dorsey and Ennis all had three going into halftime.
In the second half, Oregon only had four.
“I think the difference in the game the first half, our turnovers really put us in a bad hole,” Altman said. “We had 10 turnovers, and they scored 16 points off of those turnovers. The second half we had 4 turnovers and they only got 5 points off those turnovers. So I thought that was really significant.”
Oregon will face Michigan in the Sweet-16 on Thursday in Kansas City, Miss. It will be Oregon’s third appearance in five years.
“We feel very fortunate to be moving on and we know how difficult Michigan will be on Thursday. Hopefully, we’ll be ready and be able to give ’em a good game,” Altman said.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917