2016 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament: Oregon needs overtime to overcome Arizona in semifinals
LAS VEGAS – Oregon never trailed in its Pac-12 Tournament semifinal matchup against Arizona, but somehow the Wildcats made the Ducks prove their mettle in overtime.
Dana Altman's team shook off a blown seven-point lead in the final half-minute of regulation and a 21-of-36 performance from the foul stripe to pull away for a 95-89 win Friday, advancing the Ducks to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game against the winner of Utah and Cal.
“Well, we made that really tough on ourselves,” Altman said. “But we hurt ourselves going 6-for-16 from the line (in the second half). If we had shot them as well as we did in the overtime, 12-for-16, we wouldn't have been in that position.”
The Wildcats took advantage to force overtime with a flurry of buckets.
Arizona forward Mark Tollefsen drilled a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to pull the Wildcats within 77-73, and Arizona fouled Oregon big man Chris Boucher with 12 seconds left. After Boucher missed both free throws, the Wildcats got an offensive rebound leading to a Gabe York three with just 0.7 seconds left.
But Boucher, who was not supposed to take the ball out, did so anyway. He inbounded right into Tollefsen's hands and from about eight feet out, the UA forward was fouled by Oregon's Dillon Brooks on a shot attempt with 0.4 seconds remaining.
“Chris made a mistake,” Altman said. “He wasn't supposed to throw the ball in, and he panicked a little bit after missing those two free throws, but he's done so many things for us this year, and we wouldn't be anywhere near the position we are without that young man. We just had to give him a little break there, he was so shook-up.”
The miscues wouldn't do the Ducks in.
Tollefsen missed the first free throw attempt before hitting the second, sending the game into overtime at 77 apiece.
All night long, Oregon forward Elgin Cook created matchup problems for the Arizona big men, finishing the evening with 22 points, while one-time Arizona commit Tyler Dorsey added 19, including a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left that pushed a four-point Oregon lead to 77-70. Brooks scored 19 points in addition to six assists.
Arizona hung in the game with its 27 offensive rebounds helping it score 27 second-chance points.
It wasn't enough to overcome an ugly offensive night of 40 percent shooting and seniors York and Ryan Anderson combining to hit 9-for-33 attempts.
York got hot late and led Arizona with 21 points, while freshman Allonzo Trier scored 16 points before fouling out.
Oregon jumped out to a 10-2 lead four minutes into the game but Arizona, which never led, soon began bullying the Ducks in the paint, scoring eight of the Wildcats' first 12 points off second-chance opportunities and pulling within 15-12.
The game remained steady for the next seven minutes, and Oregon held a 29-27 lead with 4:21 left in the first half before it shifted into another defensive gear. Arizona failed to score a field goal in the final four-plus minutes of the first half and trailed 44-29 at the break thanks to a 15-2 Ducks' run to close out the first half.
“We got some run-outs, we really executed our end play there,” Altman said. “We hit some shots, our ball movement was pretty good. So that was a great stretch for us, and we started the second half really well.”
The Ducks weren't just holding the Wildcats to 33 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. Fourteen of Oregon's points in the first half came off nine Arizona turnovers, and Altman's team finished with 19 points off turnovers to six for the Wildcats.
“They just kind of punched it out,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “That was a function of them but also a function of us.
“The first half, the last couple of minutes in the first half is really what I've been fighting as their coach since day one with our group,” Miller added. “The second half we ended up outscoring them by 15. I think that says a lot about our team.”
In the second half, Oregon led by as many as 17 with 15:41 left, but Arizona gained traction behind point guard Kadeem Allen's attacking, pulling within 72-68 with just more than three minutes remaining and four points, 74-70, again with a minute left.
Dorsey's corner three with 48 seconds left gave the Ducks a seven-point lead before the Wildcats' furious flurry put a scare in the Ducks, who responded with two 3-pointersto open overtime seemingly recovered from the blown lead before hanging on.
“We had a free throw that we could've won the game, which is amazing to think of,” Miller said, before adding of overtime: “I think they reestablished themselves as the better team.”