Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks finished their non-conference schedule, against the Utah Valley Wolverines at Matthew Knight Arena, in front of 5,064 fans. The Ducks tried to stage a late second half comeback after trailing by 17 points at halftime. Quincy Guerrier scored 12 of his 14 points in the final seven minutes of play, to cut the lead to two, at 68-66 with just over a minute remaining. Trey Woodbury on the next possession, sealed the win for the Wolverines with a dagger midrange jumper, pushing the lead back to four points as Utah Valley came away with a 77-72 road win.
Woodbury had an answer for the Ducks all night, scoring a team-high 24 points (9-for-18 FG) and converted enough free throws in the final moments of the game, which proved to be the difference in stopping Oregon’s late surge.
Both teams got off to a slow start scoring until Utah Valley had a short 7-0 spurt to take a 15-10 lead. Woodbury, a 6-4 guard, paced the Wolverines, scoring 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting, knocking down two 3s. Utah Valley forced the Ducks into nine first half turnovers, and the Wolverines scored 13 points off those turnovers. Woodbury added nine rebounds, six assists and three steals to his team-high scoring. The Wolverines grew their lead to ten points at the six- minute mark of the opening half behind Tim Ceaser’s two 3s and was fouled on a third attempt, in which he netted all three free throws. Ceaser a 6-9 wing, scored 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
Justin Harmon of Utah Valley connected on a 3-pointer to push the lead to 17 points with 36 seconds left in the half to extend the lead to 41-24 at halftime. The 6-4 shooting guard, who leads the team in points per game at 14.8, was an instrumental part in the dominant first half by the Wolverines. He finished the contest with 13 points and seven rebounds though was only 5-of-15 shooting with most of his misses coming in the second half. As a team, Utah Valley connected on 6-for-11 from downtown. The Wolverines benefited from Oregon’s mistakes and held the Ducks to shooting 28 percent from the field and 13 percent on 3s.
In the second half, N’Faly Dante got involved on the offensive end, after sitting out most of the opening half in foul trouble. He posted up aggressively to score on a jump hook. Then, the 6-11 center, took advantage of a mismatch down-low, with a baseline spin for the lay-in. When Dante is fully engaged, he is a force inside crashing the offensive glass and finishing at the rim. Dante recorded a double-double scoring 17 points (7-for-12 FG) and adding 15 rebounds.
While Utah Valley cooled down shooting from the perimeter in the second half, the Ducks also remained ice cold. With only seven minutes left in the game, Oregon was 1-of-15 on 3s. Oregon kept battling, especially on the offensive glass, and drawing fouls on putbacks. The Ducks took a total of 28 free throws throughout the game, making 21. Lok Wur, not known for getting much playing time, got Oregon back in the game with an offensive rebound and put-back with eight minutes remaining to cut the deficit to eight points. His relentless hustle became contagious amongst the rest of the Ducks. Wur, a 6-9 junior, tallied only 3 points (1-for-3 FG), but collected eight rebounds and had two blocked shots in 18 minutes of action. Oregon collectively outrebounded the Wolverines 53-36 and 22-8 on the offensive end. The 22 offensive rebounds were turned into 22 second chance points to Utah Valley’s eight.
Will Richardson had to do it all for the Ducks, despite getting in foul trouble, Coach Altman kept him in the game. The 6-5 point guard, demonstrated consistency in all facets of the game for Oregon. With his teammates struggling in the opening half shooting, only making a combined 3-for-20, Richardson scored 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting. The Ducks could have been in a deeper hole going into the half, if it wasn’t for his scoring. Richardson had a game-high 26 points (10-fo-19 FG), seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. The Ducks played a much better second half, but the major determining factor for Oregon’s loss was 3-point shooting. Oregon shot 3-of-18, while the Wolverines connected on 40 percent of their attempts (8-for-20 3PT).
Oregon (7-6, 1-1) will ramp up conference play as they will host rival Oregon State (6-6, 1-1) on December 31st. Utah Valley (9-4, 0-0) will return home to start league play to face Sam Houston (10-2, 0-0) on December 29th.