Ducks Headed To First Sweet 16 Since 2002
March 18, 2007
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - So much for the little guys. The ones from Winthrop, at least.
Aaron Brooks scored 22 points and third-seeded Oregon smothered the frazzled Eagles 75-61 Sunday to eliminate the last remaining double-digit seed from the NCAA tournament.
The 11th-seeded Eagles (29-5), who upset Notre Dame in the first round, lost for the first time in 20 games to end their most successful tournament in seven tries.
So where has the madness gone? This is the first time since 1995 that no double-digit seeds have advanced to at least the third round.
Instead, the Ducks (28-7) advanced to play UNLV in the semifinals of the Midwest Regional. They made it largely because of their 11-for-23 shooting from 3-point range - that was almost as hot as the fluorescent yellow uniforms they wore.
Tajuan Porter, the shortest man on the floor at 5-foot-6, scored 14 points. He hit his first four shots of the second half, all from long range, in the game's decisive spurt. The win sent Oregon into the round of 16 for the first time since 2002.
Oregon's relentless speed on defense controlled the game. A frenzy of reaching, probing Ducks greeted every Winthrop pass near the basket. Even the Eagles' deep shots were contested, if not rushed against an expiring shot clock.
Winthrop missed 16 consecutive 3-point shots from the 12-minute mark of the first half until Chris Gaynor made one with 7:37 left in the game. Oregon led 59-48 by then.
The Ducks took a 48-35 lead 4 1/2 minutes into the second half when Porter made his third consecutive 3-pointer of the half. When Brooks made yet two more 3s - to go 5-for-7 from deep - Oregon lead 57-42 with nine minutes left.
The Ducks, who have won more games than any Oregon team since the 1944-45 squad won 30, led by as many as 18 in the second half.
Torrell Martin led Winthrop with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in his final game for the Eagles, champions of the unheralded Big South Conference. But Martin made just 6 of 18 shots, including just 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
Winthrop's Craig Bradshaw, who had 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting in Friday, had just one shot over the game's first 23 minutes.
While Winthrop was missing all those consecutive 3-point tries, the 6-foot-10 dynamo from New Zealand turned to his guards during a dead ball and implored 'Go inside!'
But when the Eagles did, Oregon smothered Bradshaw with smaller Maarty Leunen on his hip and Malik Hairston, who scored 13 points, racing over to meet Bradshaw's next move.
Oregon trailed for all but one possession of a frantic first half, until Brooks was left alone following an offensive rebound to make an easy 3-pointer. That put the Ducks up 29-27 with three minutes left in the half. They almost made it more, but Winthrop reserve DeAndre Adams stole the ball from Porter and made a runner in the lane just before time expired.
Winthrop's only field goal over the last 5 1/2 minutes of the half kept it within 33-29 at halftime and restored the Eagles' hope - until Porter ended it.