Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks faced the Cal Bears on Thursday night. Oregon was riding a six-game winning streak while Cal won their last three games after losing three in a row. In a game that was closer than many anticipated, Oregon pulled away late for a 82-69 win behind Eugene Omoruyi’s 26 points and six rebounds. Chris Duarte got hot late for the Ducks, scoring 14 of his 19 points, including four 3s, in a 3:17 stretch over the last five minutes. Matt Bradley led the Bears with 21 points.
The Ducks took a 36-35 lead into halftime on a 30-foot buzzer-beating three-pointer from Aaron Estrada. Oregon jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Cal closed the gap and eventually took the lead on efficient shooting from deep, especially from Bradley. The 6-4 senior connected on 4-of-5 from downtown in the half and was also fouled on a three-point attempt, making all three free throws. He was Cal’s leading scorer at the half with 15 points. Cal eventually took a seven-point lead (33-26) on back-to-back 3s from Makale Foreman. Omoruyi was Oregon’s go-to player throughout the half. He scored 15 points, constantly using ball-fakes to get around the Cal defender in the paint. The 6-6 senior made all of his six two-point attempts. He would have registered even more points but was 0-of-3 from deep and 3-of-7 from the charity stripe. The Ducks were limited somewhat as Duarte and Figueroa both committed two fouls as Duarte only played ten first half minutes. Cal shot well from deep hitting 7-of-14 of their shots while Oregon made their last two late, a wing 3 by Eric Williams Jr. (13 points, six rebounds) which cut Oregon’s deficit to 33-32 and Estrada’s shot at the buzzer that gave Oregon their halftime lead.
The Ducks played better defense on Bradley in the second half but Cal still had Foreman (14 points, 4-of-9 3s) hitting a pair of 3s midway through the half to keep the game close. His second 3 cut Oregon’s lead to 62-58. After Cal got within two points, back-to-back three-pointers by Duarte upped Oregon’s advantage to nine points (71-62). Duarte’s fourth late three-pointer gave the Ducks a 79-64 lead and the Ducks coasted from there.
Oregon’s three-point shooting has been a concern this year. They cam into the game shooting only 31.7 percent from deep, which was 207th in the nation. Tonight, helped by Duarte they finished shooting strong, going 6-of-12 in the second half and 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) for the game. Cal cooled off in the second half, as Oregon’s perimeter defense improved. They shot 3-of-11 in the half missing their last five shots and finished 10-of-25 (40 percent) for the game. Oregon had a 30-20 edge in points in the paint and a 14-1 edge in fast break points.
Oregon’s top scorers all hit double-figures. The 6-6 Omoruyi was basically unstoppable inside (10-of-14 FG). He knows how to use his body to his advantage in the paint and even connected on a three-pointer late. Omoyuri also came up with five steals and also drew two charges. Duarte had a quiet game until his late surge. He shot 6-of-13 overall and 5-of-10 from deep. LJ Figueroa (11 points) didn’t have his best game, shooting 4-of-14 and missing six floaters after penetration.
Oregon’s rotation was limited as backup freshman point guard Jalen Terry was unavailable and 6-11 freshman Franck Kepnang is still getting into game shape after enrolling for the second semester. That resulted in more court time for Estrada and Lok Wur. Estrada scored six points in 21 minutes and ran the offense efficiently with only one turnover. He converted a three-point play after being fouled after scoring on a nice drive. Wur caused some problems on defense for the Bears but did not score in nine minutes of action.