Eugene, OR – Oregon (5-3) held off a solid UC Riverside team 71-65 tonight at Matthew Knight Arena as Will Richardson scored 17 points to lead the winners. N’Faly Dante chipped in 12 points and five rebounds while Eric Williams Jr. added 11 points and eight boards. Dominick Pickett led Riverside with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Pickett was effective getting to the basket on penetration or pulling up for mid-range jumpers. He was only 1-of-5 from deep.
De’Vion Harmon (9 points) made the big play of the game, converting an and-1 three-point play on penetration with 1;52 left to expand the Ducks lead to five points. Oregon played with a small lineup for a time in the second half as Coach Altman was trying to restrict Dante to 20 minutes (he played 22). When Dante returned Oregon’s defensive effort improved. They stopped penetration and forced the Highlanders into three shot clock violations. Dante also came up with three big late rebounds. He would have had a better line if he had made his free throws, shooting only 4-of-9 there on the game.
Oregon continued to recover from their offensive woes that lasted for four games starting with the BYU game in Portland. They looked very crisp starting this game, hitting their first eight shots from the field, including three 3-pointers. The Ducks continued their offensive efficiency throughout the half shooting 65.4 percent overall (17-of-26) including 6-of-11 from deep. The problem was Riverside was efficient as well. They shot 63 percent (17-of-27) overall with 3-of-8 from three. The Ducks led 42-37 at the half.
The second half was more of a slog offensively for both teams as each team shot only 42.9 percent with Riverside hitting 1-of-9 from deep and the Ducks 3-of-10. Richardson shot 7-of-12 overall including 2-of-3 3s and looked more comfortable on offense, especially with the ball. He added five assists against three turnovers. The stats were fairly even with Oregon shooting slightly better than Riverside and with rebounding and turnovers basically even. Riverside had a 42-28 edge in points in the paint, mainly helped by first half penetration from their guards.
The first half was played at a quick pace with only eight combined fouls being called. There were only two combined free throws, UCR did not have a free throw attempt at the half. The teams shot so well that there were only 19 combined rebounds (UCR had an 11-8 edge). The scoring was distributed evenly with no player scoring in double figures.l Richardson (9 first half points) continued his improved play, his shot looked good (4-of-7) as he found some open spots in UCR’s zone and came up with four assists. Quincy Guerrier (8 first half points) and De’Vion Harmon (6) both hit 2-of-3 from deep. Callum McRae, a 7-1 center from New Zealand used his big body to carve out space inside and connected on all four of his field goal attempts for the Highlanders. UCR has eight players on their roster from Australia and New Zealand.
Riverside kept the game close in the second half and took a 56-55 lead midway through the half on a three-pointer from Pickett. Williams Jr. returned the favor for the Ducks, connecting on an end of the shot clock three-pointer to put Oregon back up by two points setting the stage later for Harmon’s big three-point play.
Oregon opens up Pac-12 play on Sunday at home against Arizona State. The Sun Devils are coming off a terrible offensive effort in a 51-29 loss to Washington State. They shot 21 percent from the field including 3-of-26 (11 percent) on 3s. UC Riverside (6-4) will be off until December 12th when they play Cal Baptist at home.