Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks have a had a rocky season thus far but are still in the mix for a NCAA Tournament bid as they challenged the visiting Stanford Cardinal in their final Pac-12 regular season contest. The Ducks were led by senior N’Faly Dante who had a brilliant performance at both ends of the floor. He had 15 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks leading Oregon to a 73-68 victory at Matthew Knight Arena in front of 7,458 fans on senior night.
The Cardinal jumped out on Oregon to a 14–5 lead behind three Spencer Jones 3-pointers. His hot shooting from the perimeter early on help to keep Stanford with an early edge. He went a perfect 4-for-4 from downtown and scored 12 of his 18 points (7-for-12 FG) in the opening half. Stanford’s lead evaporated as the half went on but they stayed within striking distance behind their 3-point shooting (7-of-12 3PT) and 12 2nd chance points.
The Ducks got things going behind a trio of bench scorers in Quincey Guerrier, Kel’el Ware and Keeshawn Barthelemy who combined to score 22 first half points. This provided a much-needed spark for Oregon in the latter stages of the first half to cut into the Cardinal lead and eventually regain the lead. Guerrier made timely backdoor cuts, drawing fouls and got to the line. He finished the game with nine points (2-of-8 FG) and added three assists. Ware, showcased his inside and out game with seven points for the game on 3-of-5 FG, a big reason why he is considered an NBA prospect. Barthelemy knocked down 3-of-4 from downtown in the first half and tallied 14 points in all (4-for-7 3PT) to give the Ducks a 39-34 lead going into halftime. For the game Oregon’s bench put up 30 points.
Dante had an active presence all game with relentless effort pursuing rebounds and displaying finesse to score in and around the basket. He brought the crowd on their feet with his shot blocking ability on multiple occasions. Dante has always shown he has a hi-level skillset to be elite player in the conference and across the nation, but has been plagued with injuries for his career. He helped Oregon to go up by 12 points midway through the second half, which was their biggest lead in the contest. His 15 points came off a very efficient 7-of-9 shooting, though he struggled from the strike shooting just 1-for-6.
The 3-point shooting of Stanford cooled off in the second half, as they finished the contest shooting 9-for-21 overall as a team. The Cardinal looked to go inside more often behind 7-1 center Maxime Raynaud and 6-8 wing Brandon Angel. Raynaud scored 10 points (4-for-9 FG) and added seven rebounds. Angel was looking to overpower the smaller guards for Oregon and aggressively took it to the basket to finish with 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting including a perfect 3-for-3 on 3s. Stanford cut the lead to three points with just over five minutes remaining, but turnovers cost them in the end with 13 turnovers in total. Oregon took advantage of those turnovers to register an 18-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Senior Will Richardson, who played in his record setting 146th game as a Duck, immediately stretched the lead back to an eight-point advantage at 66-58. He scored on a a 3-point play and moments later backed it up with another drive and score at the rim. Richardson finished with 10 points (4-for-11 FG), six assists and four rebounds. The Ducks defense stepped up big in the final five minutes, including two huge blocks by Dante which could have gotten Stanford within two points, with less than a minute to play. Oregon prevailed and will be going into the Pac-12 tournament on a 3-game win streak.
Oregon (18-13, 12-8) earned the 4th seed in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas and earned a 1st round bye. Stanford (13-18, 7-12) finished as the 10th seed with the hopes of rebounding with a deep tourney run.
This article was written by Chad Mart, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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