How Oregon lost: Foul trouble for the big men down low and cold shooting from three-point range were the Ducks' downfall tonight in Pullman, WA. In a crucial game and the Ducks needing a win desparately, this was a fight that Oregon could not afford to lose. But WSU sophomore Malachi Flynn shut that door with 28 points and Oregon had no answer for Flynn. Oregon (19-11, 9-8 Pac-12) drops to the Washington State Cougars (12-17, 4-13 Pac-12) 78-76 in Pullman, WA.
The Ducks came out cold in the first half committing eight first-half turnovers and shot just 4-of-16 (25%) from three-point range. Oregon finished 10-for-32 (31%) from behind the arc and recorded 13 turnovers.
Foul trouble early on for the Ducks was also detrimental. Redshirt junior Paul White picked up two quick fouls down low, and freshman Kenny Wooten, who subbed in for White, also committed two fouls early. The Cougars only had two offensive rebounds, but capitalized on those rebounds creating 14 second-chance points compared to Oregon's nine.
Oregon had to fight and claw back from a 10-point deficit in the second half and did so with a 13-2 run over four minutes with the second half winding down. Sophomore Keith Smith got a good steal with the Cougars' shot clock winding down which lead to a dunk on the other giving Oregon its first lead in the second half. The very next possession, Smith grabbed a key offensive rebound and an assist to Pritchard for an open three-pointer. Ducks up 70-66.
But this came down to the wire. Paul White forced his man into a tough fade away jumper, a quick Ducks rebound, and sophomore guard Payton Pritchard wisely drove the ball to the hoop and was fouled on the drive. Pritchard, who has been consistent all season long, hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 4.7 seconds left and Oregon down by one. A quick foul on hot-handed Malachi Flynn, was lucky for Oregon because he too only hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe, making this just a two point game and giving Oregon one last chance. Pritchard drove up the sideline, pulled up from about 25 feet, but missed everything.
What it means: In probably one of the most important games of the season, with hopes of March Madness still alive following the Ducks' sweep of the Arizona schools the previous weekend, Oregon could not get it done in Pullman. Now, the Ducks sit in the middle of the Pac with a 9-8 record. With the Pac-12 tournament next weekend, Oregon will have one more conference game in Seattle, WA vs. the Huskies this Saturday. The winner of that game will determine the No. 6 seeding for the Pac-12 tournament.
High flying Ducks: Senior guard Eljiah Brown lead all Ducks' scores with 18 points on 6-of-11 from the field. Freshman Troy Brown Jr., followed with 17 points and six rebounds. Pritchard recorded 16 points and three assists. Senior MiKyle McIntosh and Wooten finished with seven points a piece.
Foul play: White and Wooten finished with four fouls each; Troy Brown, Pritchard, and freshman Abu Kigab finished with three fouls each.
Up next: Oregon remains on the road to face the Washington Huskies (19-10, 9-7 Pac-12) at 1:30 PM (PT) this Saturday in Seattle, WA.