Ducks Hold Off Wake Forest, 92-87, To Advance To Sweet 16

March 16, 2002

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    By GREG BEACHAM
    AP Sports Writer

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Oregon's tremendous trio just barely had enoughfirepower to hold off Wake Forest.

    Luke Jackson scored 29 points, Luke Ridnour 28 and Frederick Jones 24 assecond-seeded Oregon survived a furious challenge from the Demon Deacons,winning 92-87 Saturday to advance to the Midwest Regional semifinals.

    Jackson, Jones and Ridnour, who carried Oregon (25-8) to its first Pac-10Conference title since 1939, accounted for all but 11 of the Ducks' points asthey held off the hot-shooting Demon Deacons (21-13) in a thrilling, end-to-endgame with little defense but plenty of fireworks.

    Wake Forest, the ACC's most experienced team, played one of its best gamesof the season, but the Deacons couldn't win this particular game of 5-on-3.Oregon's three stars scored all of the Ducks' points in the second half untilAnthony Lever's free throws with 11 seconds left.

    The Ducks, just two days removed from their first NCAA tournament victorysince 1960, advanced to next week's regional final in Madison, Wis., to facethe winner of Texas' meeting with Mississippi State in Dallas on Sunday.

    Fans in the decidedly pro-Ducks crowd at Arco Arena chanted, 'SweetSixteen!' in the final seconds.

    Each member of the Ducks' trio was spectacular in his own way. Jackson madeall 10 of his free throws, including four in the final seconds, while Ridnourwas 7-of-11 on 3-pointers.

    Jones, playing much better than he did in the Ducks' win over Montana onThursday, had six rebounds, five assists and two roof-raising dunks.

    Craig Dawson scored 20 points for Wake Forest, which shot better than 55percent from the field until the final minutes and made 11-of-19 3-pointers.But Dawson injured his shoulder late in the second half and watched the finalminutes on the bench, wearing his warmups and a sling.

    Still, first-year coach Skip Prosser's team got within a few seconds of itsfirst trip to a regional semifinal since Tim Duncan's junior season. DariusSongaila had 19 points and 13 rebounds in his final game for the Demon Deacons.

    After Wake Forest led for more than 20 minutes, Oregon tied it at 78-78 onJones' thunderous rebound dunk with 5:58 left. After Ridnour hit a 3-pointerwith 3:32 left, neither team got another field goal until the final second.

    Songaila and Antwan Scott missed key shots late, while Oregon made its freethrows and eked out a big enough lead to win.

    Appropriately for a meeting between two of the NCAA's eight highest-scoringteams, the game began at a thrilling offensive pace it never lost. Wake Forestshot better than 63 percent for much of the first half, with Scott and Songailadominating Oregon's post players.

    The Demon Deacons got only sporadic playing time from second-leading scorerJosh Howard, who has a sprained ankle. In addition, Broderick Hicks missed mostof the first half after running face-first into Oregon center ChrisChristoffersen's elbow in the opening minutes.

    Dawson went to the locker room with 7:45 to play, holding his left shoulder- the same one he injured during last season's ACC tournament - after acollision with Jones.

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