In a clutch OT battle, the Ducks found themselves in the final moments of a fight for legitimacy. The last-ranked team in the conference had systematically picked them apart in the first twenty minutes, leaving little to be confident about.
But in this game, the fight was about more than rank; it was about reputation.
When Tony Woods knocked an elbow to the back of Brock Motum's head in a flagrant act of retribution for an earlier nudge, the twitter verse went haywire. "Dirty." "Foolish play." "Classless."
The Ducks' reputation began to unravel one tweet at a time, and this infraction was just a tipping point. "Undisciplined." "Sloppy." "No excuse for this."
Down eleven points at the half, Oregon had to prove they were better than all that. In the second, the Ducks went on major damage control. This time, they were going to salvage their image in overtime.
EJ Singler, Damyean Dotson helped put the Ducks back in contention; Singler had 25 points with 6 rebounds, Dotson with 16 and 5 respectively.
But tonight was really about Carlos Emory, whose career performance was pepper with hustle, discipline and aggression. He had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals off the bench. When Woods went down, Emory stepped up.
The Cougar's Royce Woolridge also had a staggering night, with 36 (!) points...
In a very physical first half, the Cougars came to play. They gave the Ducks trouble by mixing it up on defense, taking away driving lanes, putting players in uncomfortable situations. Their successful use of the zone left the Ducks to shoot just 33% from the field in the first twenty minutes.
Near the midpoint of the first half, Tony Woods stopped an 8-0 run by the Cougars with an offensive rebound, putting the Ducks down just 13-19. But shortly after, Motum gave him a little elbow nudge, who returned the favor with a flagrant elbow to the back of his head. The refs ejected Woods. Motum spent a few minutes in the lockers, and from there on, the Cougars worked to take advantage of the Ducks' another man down situation.
Motum wasn't necessarily having a great game offensively before the 'incident,' and it didn't get too much better after it. The Cougs leading scorer had just two points in the first half, but his team mates made up for it. Royce Woolridge made a career high 22 points in the first half.
Heading into the lockers, the Ducks found themselves down eleven points, in serious need of structure, discipline, confidence.
In the second half, the Ducks couldn't lose. A wide open Singler drilled a three to cap off 7 consecutive points in the first two minutes to get them close, 34-37.
It took Oregon just 5:38 to erase an 11-point halftime deficit and take the lead, 44-43 but the Cougars fought hard to keep a step ahead after that. Thanks to their 50% shooting from behind the arc, WSU's 9th three ball midway through the second half had WSU up 52-47. (They would make 12 three-pointers when it was all said and done).
Like two surly street dogs tugging furiously on either end of a grimy rope, both teams had no intention of backing down.
2:45 remaining, the Ducks had the lead 45-44, and with 90 seconds to go, it was a two possession game with the Ducks up 69-65.
The Ducks closed out the game with solid free-throw shooting and stout defense. Up 71-66 in the last 20 seconds, Kazemi fouled Motum on a three-point attempt. The Cougars got within three, and two missed FT's by John Loyd gave them a chance to get back in it, which they took. Davonte Lacy drilled a three in the last ten seconds to tie the game 71-71.
The Ducks went to Dotson in a clutch moment. He missed a 17-footer. Singler then missed a quick floater after the rebound, sending the Ducks into overtime.
No one scored in the first 90 seconds. Davonte Lacy split a pair of free throws and the Ducks followed it with a jumper by Loyd and a huge dunk by Emory. Ducks up 75-72.
With less than ten seconds to go, Woolridge's three-point jumper tied the game 77 all, but a crucial mistake by WSU's Kernich-Drew sent EJ Singler to the line, and the Ducks won it, 79-77.