No. 5 Ducks Prevail Over No. 25 Gophers
Dec 22, 2002
By ANDREW HINKELMAN
Associated Press Writer
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The fifth-ranked Oregon Ducks took advantage of their opportunities even though they weren't at their best.
Oregon capitalized on first-half foul trouble for Gophers star Rick Rickert. The Ducks went on an 18-3 run - including 14-0 at one point - to take the lead for good with Rickert on the bench with three fouls.
'We were a very tired basketball team,' Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. 'This team needed to let its character rise up and show through the adversity.'
Luke Jackson added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Ducks (8-1), who won their 22nd consecutive home game, one off the school record set from 1937-39. The streak is the fifth-longest in the nation.
'The key to this game was the team effort,' Crosswhite said. 'We stuck together, even when it was getting tough. I just go out and do whatever I can to help.'
Steve Esselink led the Gophers (6-2) with 18 points, all on 3-pointers. Jerry Holman had 17 points and Rickert, who had a career-high 28 points last year against Oregon, ended with eight points in 16 minutes before fouling out.
'Rick is one of those players that needs to be in the flow of the game to be successful; you can't jerk him in and out of the lineup because of fouls,' said Minnesota coach Dan Monson of leaving Rickert in with two early fouls. 'When you're on the road against a team of this caliber, you've got to take some chances.'
Esselink hit four 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch to lead Minnesota's comeback. The Gophers, playing for the first time in nine days, were able to get within three points with 3:11 left, but Oregon held on down the stretch.
'That's the first time I've ever really gone off in a game like that,' Esselink said. 'It's really probably the best game I've had. Once I got going I just felt like I wanted to shoot again.'
It was rough for both teams in the first half. Minnesota racked up twice as many fouls, but the Ducks went 9-of-17 from the free throw line and only led 38-31 at halftime.
The Gophers were also turnover prone early, giving the ball away 17 times.
'I told our guys that going on the road we have to control both ends of the court for 40 minutes,' Monson said. 'Today we had a tough stretch in the first half and we let them dictate us.'
Minnesota has lost both its road games this year.
In the second half, both teams started hitting from long range. During one stretch, 16 of 25 made field goals were 3-point attempts.
McArthur Court was sold out for a non-conference game for the first time since Notre Dame visited in 1984. The Gophers are the first ranked non-conference opponent to appear in Eugene since 1996, when then-No. 13 Fresno State was upset 87-75.
Minnesota is also the first Big Ten team to visit Eugene since Purdue lost 62-59 on Dec. 23, 1988. Monson's father, Don, coached the Ducks from 1984-92.
With the win, Oregon became the 45th Division I school with 1,300 victories.