Men's BasketballSports

Payton Pritchard’s career night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum lifts Oregon past DePaul

PORTLAND, Ore. — Up until Thursday night, Payton Pritchard had never lost a game at the Moda Center. The West Linn, Oregon product won two state high school championships at the Trail Blazers’ arena during his prep career, and he claimed he’s 10-0 in the building.

But that alleged streak ended on Thursday night.

In his first game at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the home of the Trail Blazers until 1995 and the arena adjacent to the Moda Center, Pritchard scored a career-high 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead Oregon (5-1) to an 89-79 overtime win over DePaul (1-4) in the consolation bracket of PK80 on Friday night. He also finished with six rebounds and a game-high eight assists.

Pritchard had a chance to end the game in regulation, but his step-back three rimmed out as time expired. He made up for it in overtime as he outscored the Blue Demons 7-4, and recorded a rebound and an assist to cap his career performance.

“We needed a couple shots,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “I thought he had some pretty good looks.”

Being the lone returning starter, Pritchard knew he would have to be a leader this season. In taking on that role, Pritchard has embraced two different personalities, both of which emerged on Friday.

“Sometimes he might be a, ‘Let’s Go!’ kind of guy, or sometimes he’ll just be a silent killer,” Oregon forward Paul White said.

On Friday night, though, White saw more of the former.

“Tonight, he was more of the ‘Let’s Go!’ Payton, because he knew how important this game was,” White said. “We knew that we couldn’t lose this game.”

A loss would’ve meant Oregon, the unofficial host of the tournament celebrating Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, would play in the last place game against the University of Portland. Instead, the Ducks got Oklahoma in the consolation championship game on Sunday.

While a Portland and Oregon matchup might have been entertaining for the locals, Pritchard wasn’t about to let his team play in the last place game of a tournament in his hometown.

Pritchard scored 11 in the first half, including three 3-pointers, to go along with three rebounds and four assists. He didn’t score again until there was 9:22 left in the second half, but that’s when Pritchard began to heat up. He rattled off 11 points over the next four minutes to keep DePaul at bay.

His 3-pointer with 2:24 left in overtime put Oregon up three and gave the Ducks enough momentum to ride out until the final buzzer sounded.

And when it did, who better to dribble the clock out than Pritchard. He stood at center court as the Memorial Coliseum crowd — a majority of which were dressed in Oregon green and yellow — rose to its feet and cheered a little bit louder for the Portland area native.

Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris

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Gus Morris

Gus Morris

Gus Morris covers Oregon football, basketball and women's golf for the Emerald. Caffeine addict. Bay Area sports. I know words, I have the best words.