With 13 minutes left in the second half, the Ducks had just begun to close the gap. With Oregon trailing 43-40, Matthew Knight Arena was electric. All fans were on their feet. In the face of it all, Colorado found a way to capitalize, hitting back-to-back shots from the 3-point line. With the game seeming bleak for the Ducks, head coach Dana Altman was forced to call timeout. The energy in the building seemed to dissipate, and the cheering went silent.
It was clear that if Oregon was to remain undefeated at home and find a way to escape with a victory, something would have to change. Somebody would have to step up. The Ducks needed a hero, and this time, it came in the form of a pair.
Will Richardson started the game slowly, with only four points in the first half, but that wouldn’t remain the case.
“They just told me to keep being aggressive,” Richardson said post-game. “Don’t worry about the stats, just keep playing.”
The sophomore came up huge in the second half, scoring crucial late-game baskets that would propel the Ducks to a 68-60 victory. Richardson tallied 21 points, nine rebounds and two steals through the affair.
Richardson credits the crowd for his team’s second-half energy boost.
“The crowd was amazing,” Richardson explained. “[It was] probably one of the best crowds we’ve played in front of at home.”
This wasn’t Richardson’s first time making key plays when his team needed him most. Tonight not only ties his season-high point total against Arizona at 21, but marks his eighth game of the 2019-20 season scoring over 15 points.
It wasn’t just Richardson that stood out in the Ducks’ win over the Buffs. This time, it would come from someone unexpected, as well: Addison Patterson.
Patterson, a freshman for the Ducks, has gone through quite the transition throughout his first season in Eugene. The former four-star recruit has filled a slightly different role than he’s used to, coming off the bench and seldom playing in big moments. Tonight, late in the game, he would get his shot, and he delivered.
The Milton, Ontario native played 12 minutes in Thursday night’s matchup with Colorado and made a point of capitalizing whenever he could. Patterson put up six points, three steals and two assists by the final horn, including an emphatic dunk over Colorado’s Evan Battey that added an exclamation point to the Ducks’ late-game lead.
“Addi did a great job. He’s earned that,” Altman said of Patterson’s play. “Last couple weeks, he’s really been doing a better job. Not only did he have 12 minutes of really positive stuff, there were no negatives.”
With Richardson turning into a sophomore star and Patterson playing his role to a T, the Ducks have little reason to fear big moments. There will surely be many more to come, with a handful of games remaining in the fight for the Pac-12 title.