Oregon guards play big role in win over Rider
It was an ugly game.
From turnovers to missed shots to in-and-out free throws, Oregon’s first-round NIT game against Rider wasn’t pretty.
But after the team shot 33.3 percent in the first half, the Ducks guards stepped up and gave Oregon life. Sophomore Payton Pritchard went 7-of-12 for 23 points while freshman Victor Bailey Jr. went 8-of-11 for 23 points in the Ducks’ 99-86 win over the Broncs.
The Ducks’ guards shot well from behind the 3-point arc, extended a foot and eight inches for the NIT, and which was drawn onto the Matthew Knight Arena court in white.
Bailey Jr.’s 7-of-8 3-point shooting bested his prior career-high of three.
“He gives us a big spark off the bench,” forward Kenny Wooten said. “We just tried to give it to him every time.”
Pritchard went 2-of-5 from 3, while senior guard Elijah Brown managed 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. The three guards were responsible for 64 of the Ducks’ 99 points.
Pritchard added six rebounds and eight assists in the win but it was Bailey Jr’s career night that was the highlight of the guard play. To go along with his career-high seven made 3s, Bailey Jr.’s 23 points were a career high.
“VJ really likes to play when the ball’s going in,” head coach Dana Altman said. “He did a really nice job of shooting the ball and getting us some energy there.”
With the 3-point line nearly two feet back from the one normally played on in the season, the effect wasn’t evident.
“We just showed up to practice and there was a white line,” Bailey Jr. said. “Went into practice and then started shooting.”
The strong 3-point shooting drew out the Rider defenders, who rushed out to the perimeter to guard Bailey Jr. and Brown.
That opened up a lane for ball-handler Pritchard, who would drive and score. It also allowed him to open up spots outside when the Rider players noticed the sophomore rush to the rim.
“They don’t block a lot of shots and we did get to the rim a number of times,” Altman said. “As soon as we hit a few 3s and they pushed out on our 3-point shooters then it really opened up our lane.”
Pritchard and the Ducks drew quite a few free throws, going to the line for 27 shots. The Ducks had difficulty from the stripe, making only 19 of those 27 free throw attempts.
Without the one-and-one free throws in NIT, each foul in the bonus sent players to the line for two shots.
“Psychologically, it makes a difference because we’re a really good free throw shooting team but tonight we weren’t shooting them as good as we have been shooting them maybe it did hurt us,” Altman said.
In the first 28 games of the season, Pritchard had missed 11 free throws. Including his just 7-of-11 shooting from the line against Rider, Pritchard had missed 10 free throws in the past seven Oregon games.
Those missed points from the line didn’t haunt Oregon but it’s something for the Ducks to keep in mind as they progress in the NIT to play either Marquette or Harvard in the next round.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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