With three minutes remaining in tonight’s game against Oregon State and the score tied 60 – 60, Jeremaine Cousinard had fouled out. When he left the floor, Cousinard was the second-leading Oregon scorer with 12 points and had hit 3 of his 6 three-point attempts. Coming into the game as his replacement was Rivaldo Soares, who had missed all 5 of the shots he had taken previously. The Beavers responded with a 7 – 4 run to lead 67 – 64 and Duck fans could be forgiven to start bracing themselves for the team’s third straight road loss. But Soares was having none of it, and the 6’6” Senior guard knocked down a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left and then hit the game winner from the right side with under a second and the Ducks hustled out of Corvallis with a 69 – 67 victory.
Losing this game would have been a horrible waste of a fantastic night from Oregon’s N’Faly Dante. Dante spent long periods dominating the paint against Oregon State, and despite frequent double-teaming, scoring 16 points and grabbing a personal best 18 rebounds, 7 of which were off the offensive glass. In addition to Dante and Cousinard, Keeshawn Barthelemy and Quincy Guerrier came off the Oregon bench to score in double digits, with 11 and 10 points respectively. Guerrier added 6 rebounds.
While the Ducks are still seeking consistency they had long periods of excellent play against the Beavers. Oregon pulled away from a 7 – 7 tie early in the first half scoring 7 straight points as Cousinard hit a shot inside and a 3-pointer and Dante scored on a layup. The Ducks played well through the mid-point of the first half building a 23 – 18 lead.
Oregon could not keep it up, however, and Oregon State surged into a 25 – 25 tie on a 3-pointer at 7:40. Neither team could do much with the basketball, and it took the Beavers over 4 minutes to go ahead 29 – 27. Oregon would close out the half on another nice run, scoring 8 straight to go into the locker room with a 35 – 29 lead. In the half, Dante, Cousinard and Barthelemy each had 8 points and Dante had 8 rebounds. Oregon shot 37.1 percent from the field including going 7 – 12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. Oregon did a particularly good job of denying Oregon State second chance opportunities in the half, holding the Beavers to just 2 offensive rebounds.
Oregon looked very good as the second half got underway. The Ducks built their first double-digit lead, 43 – 33 on a Nate Bittle free throw. Oregon went cold from the field and backed off a little on defense and Oregon led just 47 – 43 until Barthelemy made 3 free throws after taking a knock on a shot outside the arc to put Oregon up 50 – 43 with 11:14 left. The Beavers continued to chip away and largely outplay the Ducks.
In particular, Oregon started having trouble on the defensive glass – Oregon State would grab 6 offensive rebounds in the second half. The Beavers would go on a 12 – 4 run to take their first lead of the half at 55 – 54 with 7:29 left. The game would remain tight for the next 4 and one-half minutes until Cousinard fouled out and Soares entered.
For the game, Oregon shot 23 – 58 from the floor overall (39.7 percent) and an excellent 10 – 21 from beyond the 3-point arc – 47.6 percent. The Ducks also shot 13 – 15 from the charity stripe. Will Richardson, Jr was largely absent from the score sheet, but dished out 7 assists and had only 1 turnover – as a team Oregon committed just 6 giveaways.
Oregon (16 – 13 overall, 10 – 8 in Conference) is hanging tough in fifth place in the Pac-12, on game behind Arizona State a miracle winner against Arizona tonight. The Ducks will face the Bay Area schools in Eugene in their final Conference games next weekend.