Eugene, OR – After not playing a game for two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols, the No. 21-ranked Oregon Ducks geared up to challenge their intrastate rival Oregon State Beavers in a Pac-12 match-up. Oregon was without leading scorer Chris Duarte (18.4 PPG) and LJ Figueroa, who brings intensity on the defensive end, after both tested positive for COVID-19. Starting point guard Will Richardson remained out due to injury, Oregon’s eight remaining scholarship players needed to step up to fill the void while the Beavers were looking to ride their momentum after two big home wins this past week.
The Beavers were in control from start to finish in the 355th meeting between these two squads. Their size and pursuit of the basketball proved to be a huge factor, as they dominated the boards by a count of 42-23, while holding the Ducks to 38 percent shooting from the field. Warith Alatishe’s double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Ethan Thompson, who finished with 19 points with a strong second half performance, led Oregon State to a 75-64 victory. It was their first road win against a ranked team since 1985 and ended Oregon’s 28-game home winning streak.
From the opening tip, both teams struggled to get into a rhythm offensively. The Beavers were the first to hit their stride by connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers by Jarod Lucas and Gianni Hunt. Oregon State jumped out to a 21-12 advantage with 7:06 remaining in the half. Lucas, the leading scorer on the season for the Beavers, scored eight first-half points with two 3-pointers. His scoring mentality and deep range adds pressure to opposing teams, as he scored 13 points, making 3-of-6 beyond the arc.
At one point in the half, Oregon was just 1-for-10 from the 3-point line and trailed by 12 points with 1:25 remaining. Amauri Hardy (5 points) sparked an 8-2 run with a 3-pointer from the wing. Shortly after, Eric Williams Jr. cut the lead to 34-28 at the end of the first half with an authoritative slam. Williams Jr., a redshirt junior, managed 11 points despite shooting 1-for-7 on 3s, grabbed three rebounds, and handed out two assists. As a team, Oregon shot 28 percent (8-for-29 3FG) from the perimeter, making it one of their lowest shooting performances in the season.
Offensively, the Ducks were very ineffective throughout the game and relied heavily on Williams Jr. and Eugene Omoruyi to produce. The duo was able to create opportunities from the strike with strong drives to the basket and drawing fouls. The two combined to score 15 out of the team’s 28 points in the opening half with most of the points coming from the free throw line.
The second half started out with the Ducks quickly nailing consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game. After a timeout, the Beavers stormed back with a 12-1 scoring run that was capped off with a rim rocking put-back dunk by Alatishe. These plays by the 6-7 sophomore made for two of the Beavers’ 14 second-chance points as the team collectively grabbed ten offensive rebounds to the Ducks’ five. Alatishe, who displayed great length and athleticism, showed why he is one of the top rebounders in the conference. He currently ranks third averaging 7.8 rebounds per game. In this game alone, he pulled down seven offensive boards and finished with an efficient 7-of-10 from the field to tally his 14 points.
Thompson began to take charge in the second half by dictating the pace of the game and looking for opportunities to score. After failing to make a field goal in the first half (0-4 FG), the 6-5 point guard scored 14 of his 19 points in the final half. He demonstrates a high basketball IQ and controlled pace, and he seeks to get the free throw line. In this game, he shot 12-for-14 from the strike. The senior has also made his mark in Oregon State basketball record books by becoming the second player ever to have 1,400 points and 400 assists in a career. The other player is former NBA star Gary Payton.
Omoruyi made a valiant effort in keeping the Ducks in the game. After going scoreless for the first time this season in their previous contest against Utah, Omoruyi scored an inefficient 15 points (5-for-16 FGs) and tallied nine rebounds. At 6-6, he has a lot of strength and is a balanced scorer both inside the paint and out on the perimeter. Freshman Jalen Terry and sophomore Aaron Estrada both had solid contributions for the Ducks by scoring 13 points (5-for-7 FG) and 10 points respectively (4-for-6 FG). With the potential of multiple players missing game time, the pair will strive to be key providers for the Ducks in their first season with the program.
Oregon (9-3, 4-2) travels to face UCLA (12-3, 8-1) in a battle between two of the top teams in the conference on Thursday, January 28th. Oregon State (8-5, 4-3) will look to defeat the USC Trojans (12-3, 6-2) for the second time this season in a matter of weeks.