Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks looked to recover from two last-second conference losses as they returned home to face the Portland Pilots on Wednesday evening. They had their best offensive performance of the year and defeated the Pilots rather easily 96-71. Center N’Faly Dante played his best game of his college career contributing 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and added nine rebounds in 23 minutes of play. Three other Ducks scored in double-figures with De’Vion Harmon adding 19 points, Quincy Guerrier with 17 points and Will Richardson with 16 points, six rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Portland kept the contest relatively close with their three-point shooting. They made 11-of-26 from deep in the game with 6-2 guard Mike Meadows (14 points) hitting all four of his attempts and 6-8 Kristian Sjolund (14 points), from Norway, connecting on 4-of-10. Chris Austin, a 6-4 sophomore transfer from Fordham, led the visitors with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Dante looks to be rounding into form after his knee surgery last year. He was much more active on offense, demanding the ball on a few occasions and hit the boards hard (four offensive rebounds). He added two steals and a blocked shot.
Oregon has been among the worst high major programs in assist percentage. Their ball movement has not been good, players have been dribbling too much without any offensive action and their turnover percentage, particularly on late passes has been high. Tonight, they made a substantial improvement in all those areas. In the first half their ball movement was crisp and the players made quick decisions with the ball. At the half they led Portland 46-32. The Ducks made 60 percent (18-of-30) of their shots from the field including 4-of-8 from deep. They generated nine assists on 18 made baskets. In their prior game, a loss against Stanford, they had seven assists the entire game.
Dante played his most minutes (14) of any half thus far this season. Coming off knee surgery and rounding into shape, he registered ten first half points on 5-of-6 shooting and added four rebounds. Richardson was much quicker with his decisions and added eight points, five assists and five rebounds. Harmon also added nine points, connecting on all four of his free throws. Guerrier was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and also had nine points.
Oregon continued to play well offensively throughout the second half, gradually increasing their lead and never letting Portland make a serious run. Harmon shot 6-of-10 on the game with Richardson 6-of-11 and Guerrier 8-of-12. Jacob Young, who started in place of Eric Williams Jr., as Oregon went with a three-guard lineup had an off-night, shooting 0-of-9 but added five rebounds and three assists. Oregon had 16 assists against only eight turnovers and completely dominated the paint with a 54-14 advantage. They shot 53.6 percent for the game including 8-of-20 (40%) from deep. They generated 22 points off turnovers compared to nine points for the Pilots and had a 43-30 rebounding edge.
Oregon next will face the No. 1-ranked Baylor Bears at home on Saturday night.