Oregon Clinches Share Of Pac-10 Title With Last-second Victory Over USC, 67-65.
Feb. 28, 2002
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Oregon did more than clinch at least a share of its firstconference title in 57 years.
The 13th-ranked Ducks proved they can win on the road, getting a runner byFrederick Jones with one second remaining for a 67-65 victory over No. 19Southern California on Thursday night.
Oregon came into the Los Angeles Sports Arena with a 3-6 road record aftergoing 16-0 at home. But the Ducks rallied to beat a ranked opponent for thesixth time this season.
'People said we couldn't win on the road and we wanted to show them wecould,' said Luke Ridnour, who led the Ducks with 17 points, including five3-pointers.
'This means a lot to this program. It's been a long time since Oregonbasketball has been on top. We set out this year to prove that we belonged atthe top,' he said.
Oregon (21-7) remained atop the Pac-10 with a 13-4 record, and put itself inposition to claim the top seed in next week's conference tournament. The Ducksconclude the regular season Saturday at UCLA.
'We're just going to enjoy this and look to win the Pac-10 championshipoutright on Saturday,' Ridnour said.
The Trojans (19-8, 11-6) came into the game looking to grab a share of theirfirst Pac-10 title since 1985. After trailing most of the first 20 minutes,they built an 11-point second-half lead amid a rare electric atmosphere createdby 11,505 screaming fans.
'That's a big deal to be Pac-10 champions,' USC coach Henry Bibby said.'We wanted that, but we can't lay down now. We've got to pick the pieces backup and go again.'
But it came down to the final shot. USC's Brandon Granville heaved the ballabout 60 feet and it hit the front of the rim at the buzzer.
'Do you realize Granville's 3 almost went in?' Oregon coach Ernie Kentsaid. 'If that had happened, I still would have been laying out on that floor.You would have been doing this interview standing over me.'
Sam Clancy led the Trojans with 25 points and Errick Craven added 20. ButClancy had to sit when he picked up his fourth foul and that's when the Duckslaunched a 21-5 tear to take their first lead of the second half.
'It's real tough,' a disconsolate Clancy said. 'We get this game, getOregon State and we got a share of the Pac-10 title. But another last-secondshot goes against us.'
Jones added 15 points and 10 rebounds - his fifth career double-double - buthad only three baskets in the second half. His last one was the biggest.
'It seemed like they just opened a big wide lane to just let me get to thepaint,' he said. 'Once I got to the paint, I shot a little floater I'd beenworking on for I don't know how long. Finally it worked.'
USC opened the second half with a 17-9 run to take its largest lead, 50-39.Clancy, Rory O'Neil and Craven scored all the Trojans' points in the spurt.
Reserve Luke Jackson keyed Oregon's big run, scoring all of his 12 points asthe Ducks went ahead 60-55 with 4:11 remaining.
The Trojans got to 60-59 on two free throws by Granville with 3:03 left. ButRidnour hit his final 3-pointer and Clancy missed two free throws before Jonesscored inside for a 65-59 lead.
Craven and David Bluthenthal hit consecutive 3-pointers that tied the gameat 65 with 30 seconds left. But the Trojans' defense couldn't keep Jones fromscoring with one second to go.
'It feels bad right now, but we still got the tournament and we know we'renot out of this,' Clancy said.
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