Payton Pritchard drove to the basket between three Oregon State players, and while tossing up a layup that kissed off the glass and went in, he was fouled. Before heading to the free throw line, he let out a yell. Excitement. Joy. Relief.
After Oregon went on a 27-4 run in the first half, the Ducks’ 41-25 halftime lead diminished in the second half as Oregon went 6-of-24 from the field. But, the Ducks (14-7, 4-4) hung on to win the 350th edition of the men’s basketball Civil War, 66-57.
“I complimented them on shot selection [at halftime], then to start the second half we take three really quick, bad 3s and never really got that same rhythm offensively that we got in the first half,” head coach Dana Altman said.
The first half featured a nearly perfect performance from Elijah Brown, who was 4-of-4 shooting and 3-of-3 from 3-point range. However, he finished the game 4-of-10 while making 9-of-9 free throws to total 20 points on the night.
“When Elijah hits his shots, I think that’s when we’re at our best,” forward Paul White said. “A lot of people are able to make plays for each other and the floor can open up more so he really helped us today.”
From 6-of-10 shooting, White tied his career high 17 points while he turned the ball over on three occasions.
“I thought he did a good job especially in the first half, of taking the ball to the basket,” Altman said. “If it wouldn’t have been for those turnovers, he really had a good ballgame.”
Elijah Brown was a big part of the Ducks’ first half run, but some explosive plays from his teammates kept Oregon’s momentum going.
Victor Bailey drove to the baseline, stopped and dished it inside the key to Kenny Wooten, who collected the pass, took a step forward and leaped for a one-handed dunk with his right hand to give the Ducks a 23-11 lead.
Pritchard only shot the ball once in the first half. Instead of going for the baskets himself, he was finding his teammates, aiding the Ducks’ 65.2 percent shooting first half.
“I was just getting teammates the ball, getting people going,” Pritchard said. “I just let the game come to me. I’m not going to force anything but if I see a lane I’m gonna take it. Guys are hitting shots and we got up by 16 so I didn’t really see a need for me to get super aggressive and take a shot that wasn’t there.”
The win was the first time the Ducks kept a team under 60 points since Oregon’s 114-56 win over Alabama State in November.
Oregon forced 12 total turnovers from Oregon State, nine of which came in the first half.
“Throughout all week of practice, we were just really talking about taking away their easy baskets, contesting shots, running them off the 3,” White said. “Once we were able to do that, they kind of gave us some gift baskets.”
The Ducks’ shift their focus to the Bay Area as Oregon gears up for matchups at California and Stanford on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, respectively.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow