Oregon survived the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, barely.
The sixth-seeded Ducks (21-11, Pac-12 10-8) battled their way through an ugly first half to overcome the No. 11-seed Washington State Cougars (12-19, 4-14) in overtime Thursday night, 64-62 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
After Oregon’s worst first half of the season, shooting only 29.2 percent on seven out of 24 basket attempts, the Ducks finally made moves in the final minute of regulation play.
A Payton Pritchard layup scored the final lead for Oregon with only a minute and a second left in overtime, getting them ahead of Washington State 63-62. A Troy Brown Jr. free throw claimed the final point for the Ducks with six seconds left.
It was the team’s lone lead of overtime and its second lead change of the game. The Cougars led for a total of 39 minutes of regulation play, while Oregon only held a lead for a total of a minute and 11 seconds.
It was the first big pressure Oregon had brought onto the court the whole game.
It was a final push for tournament advancement after trailing the Cougars 24-17 at the half.
The Oregon team started the game slow with Pritchard scoring the team’s first points almost five full minutes into the game, however; the Ducks were already down 4-0 at that point.
At most, Oregon would trail Washington State by 11 points.
At the end of the game, Pritchard led the Ducks, alongside MiKyle McIntosh with 18 points. Following behind them was Elijah Brown with 10 points. Brown Jr. led the team with 11 rebounds.
There is no doubt that Oregon will need to play better in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against No. 3 seed Utah, with tipoff set for 8:30 p.m., if they want to punch a ticket to Saturday’s tournament finals and a trip to the big dance.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni