Oregon hangs on to beat UCLA 94-91
Oregon forward MiKyle McIntosh stole the ball from a UCLA pass. He turned and found teammate Payton Pritchard before running into the courtside table where ESPN commentators Dave Pasch and Bill Walton sat.
Pritchard continued to run the ball down the court and into the paint, and instead of shooting, he lobbed a pass to Victor Bailey Jr., who clenched the ball and soared for a dunk. The Ducks had created a lofty 17-point lead of over the Bruins.
But the comfort would vanish, along with score deficit, as the final seconds of the game came down to free throws.
“It’s a very smart move,” McIntosh said of the team’s decision to foul UCLA during the final seconds. “We haven’t worked on that yet actually. That’s why it made it more nerve-wracking for some of us.”
With less than a minute left in the game, a sold-out crowd of 12,634 erupted. People stood on their feet and Duck fans began a chant of “Let’s go Ducks.”
The Bruins caught up with the Ducks, trailing only by two thanks to a 10-0 run.
Oregon would go from a comfortable 14-point lead at the half to battling back and forth between fouls and free throws in the final seconds to beat UCLA, 94-91.
Pritchard’s final four free throws, and an incomplete half-court shot from the Bruins gave the Ducks the win.
“I almost fainted a little bit,” Bailey Jr. said of Bruins’ Aaron Holiday’s half-court lug shot. “Flashbacks to Boise State and I didn’t want that to happen again.”
The victory marked Altman’s 200th Oregon career win as head coach, and broke a two-game losing streak for the Ducks.
“We had to find a way to win,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “They’re as good as an offensive team as there is in the league …We weren’t getting stopped and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves … And then all of a sudden it’s four [point deficit] and it’s obviously right down to the wire.”
In the first half, UCLA was unresponsive to a run of six baskets from Oregon. The Ducks never dropped the lead, leading as much as 18 over the Bruins, 63-45.
But the second half wouldn’t be as smooth as Ducks would play through eight turnovers, compared to zero in the first half.
Pritchard finished the game with a team-high 25 points, his fifth game this season scoring over 20 points.
“He’s been shooting the way we knew he could,” McIntosh said of Pritchard’s Saturday night performance. “He shot the ball very well. I always saw him as a shooter, so he’s just doing his job.”
Three other Ducks finished in double-digits. McIntosh and Bailey Jr. ended with 18 points each, tying Bailey Jr.’s career-high mark, while Troy Brown finished with 17 points. McIntosh led the team with eight rebounds.
“He’s playing like I’d hope a senior would,” Altman said of McIntosh. “You know, with a little sense of urgency.”
With a week-long break, Oregon will play the Oregon State Beavers next on Jan. 27 at Matt Knight Arena at 5 p.m. The Ducks will look for redemption over their Civil War rivals after Oregon lost the first game of the season series in Corvallis.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni
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