Ducks fall to Zags in Thanksgiving feast

by Kevin Nesgoda

The 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks (6-1) lost to the No. 8 Gonzaga Bulldogs (7-0) in overtime at the Battle 4 Atlantis Semifinals in the Bahamas at 1 p.m. PT on Thursday, November 28. On Wednesday, the Ducks came back from down 19 points in the second half to beat No. 13 Seton Hall and advance. Gonzaga beat Southern Mississippi by 25 in their quarterfinal matchup.

The first half was not ideal for Oregon. The Ducks were getting decent looks but only shot 5/14 from behind the arc. They were also out-rebounded 20-8 (yes, you read that right) and committed eight fouls to Gonzaga’s three. Mark Few’s men jumped out to a 24-7 lead before Dana Altman drilled his guys into closing out on threes—specifically from sharpshooter Corey Kispert (17pts, 7reb on 6/12 FG).

Oregon senior guard Payton Pritchard (17pts, 6reb, 4ast on 7/23 FG) started the game rough, scoring sparingly but still earning steals and hustle points on defense.

Oregon brought needed rebounding and defensive energy after halftime. CJ Walker (12pts, 4orb) was one of the catalysts for these improvements throughout the game, but he was forced to sit with 10 minutes left after picking up his fourth foul. Pritchard certainly heated up in the second half too. He gave the Ducks the first lead of the game at 51-50 at the 11:48 mark with a deep 3-point bomb.

Down the Stretch

With 90 seconds left, Kispert put Gonzaga up by four with a clutch three before Pritchard responded with a finish at the rim. On the next inbound pass, he drilled another open three.

But Pritchard responded again with a deep contested three of his own from about 5-6 feet behind the arc. At 66-64 with 54 seconds left, the Ducks came up with a huge defensive stop. Pritchard’s help for Will Richardson on Filip Petrusev (18pts, 14reb) caused some chaos and the Zags weren’t able to get a shot off before the buzzer.

Chris Duarte (16pts, 9reb) drew a foul by driving on Killian Tillie (7pts, 5reb) with 7.3 seconds to go. Out of the timeout, Duarte sunk both free throws and Tillie bricked a deep triple to send the game to overtime at 66-all.

Walker came back in and made an instant impact on the offensive glass. He grabbed three offensive rebounds in OT and earned two trips to the line off of them.

Both teams battled back and forth in overtime, but Oregon couldn’t produce a shot on the final possession. They did, however, show that they have the talent to hang with the big dogs. It’ll be interesting to see how they match up against the Tar Heels tomorrow morning.

Next Up

Gonzaga will face the Michigan Wolverines in the final on Friday, November 29 at 11 a.m. PT. Oregon plays North Carolina at 8:30 a.m. in the third-place game that has the firepower to be a final.

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