2016 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament: Chris Boucher, Oregon clean glass to overcome Washington
LAS VEGAS – The start wasn't ideal and the offense was mistake-prone.
The Pac-12's top-seeded Oregon Ducks opened their conference tournament run with a couple concerns, but their continued blitzing of the offensive glass helped them overcome a 12-point first-half deficit to the Washington Huskies and win the quarterfinals matchup, 83-77, on Thursday.
The impressive part through it all was 6-foot-10 center Chris Boucher.
Known more for his shot-blocking and three-point shooting, the thin 210-pound senior not only battled with Washington's bigger and just as athletic frontcourt, led by freshman Marquese Chriss – Boucher dominated it.
[Related video: Ducks advance to semifinals with win over Huskies (Highlights)]
Oregon scored 17 second-chance points, and it was Boucher who accounted for 10 of his team-high 19 points following his own offensive rebounds. Seven of his 11 total boards came on the offensive end.
“If we stayed together and all went to the rebounds, we had a chance to win this game,” Boucher said after becoming the first Pac-12 player to record 100 blocks and 30 3-pointers in a season.
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After the game, the Huskies felt they'd let a winnable game get away. Chriss, who scored 19 points, admitted his team struggled to stop Boucher and the Ducks from hurting them on the glass.
“He's long and he can jump for a big man,” Chriss said of Boucher. “If he's sitting around the rim, he just sticks his arms up.”
There were multiple dimensions to Boucher's success. He finished Thursday with three blocks and also drilled two key treys in the first half.
Altman found significance in each one.
“Chris, his two threes in the first half … we were struggling. It got us going,” the Ducks coach said. “(Tyler Dorsey's) threes in the second did the same thing. I can remember all five of them. Two in the first half, three in the second half. I thought gave us a big lift.”
Unlike Wednesday, when four first-round Pac-12 games quickly turned into blowouts, the Ducks remained calm through a rough start, even as their offense pressed uncharacteristically. That will need to be addressed before Oregon faces the winner of Colorado and Arizona at 6 p.m. PT/7 p.m. MT Friday in the semifinals on Pac-12 Network.
But a win is a win, and the one against a talented No. 8 seed Washington team wasn't shameful in the slightest.
“We knew we were going to be in for a tough game,” Altman added. “Going in, we knew it was going to be a 40-minute fight.”