Top-seeded Oregon squeaks past Saint Joseph's

By Sean Kramer, The Sports Xchange  |  March 21, 2016 at 3:11 AM
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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Tyler Dorsey put his head down and subtly shook it after the first free throw went down. Then he stepped back to the line and smoothly drained the other.

Minutes later, the top-seeded Ducks stormed midcourt to mob their coach, Sweet 16-bound for the first time since 2013 after a 69-64 win over eighth-seeded Saint Joseph's in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region.

Seconds earlier, Dorsey dived on an uncharacteristic turnover from Saint Joseph's star DeAndre' Bembry, who just lost a handle on the ball. At the time, Oregon led 67-64 lead with 10 seconds left, and Dorsey held on through an onslaught of Hawks vying for the ball. One Hawks player threw himself into the pile, slamming into Dorsey.

Teammates had to calmly walk Dorsey, a freshman guard, away from the situation.

"Free throws, free throws," one teammate reasoned.

"I just felt somebody collide on top of me very hard, so I didn't know who it was," Dorsey said. "But I was fine, my teammates calmed me down and that's about it."

Dorsey already might have had plenty of adrenaline in his system after hitting a 3-pointer with 1:57 left to give Oregon a 61-60 lead.

Dillon Brooks lifted Oregon into the lead for good with a corner 3-pointer with 1:22 remaining, pushing the Ducks in front 64-62.

Brooks led all scorers with 25, teammate Elgin Cook had 18, and Dorsey chipped in 14.

The teams traded leads four times with under three minutes remaining. Oregon went on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 58. The surge followed a 23-6 run by Saint Joseph's that had shocked the arena and given the Hawks a 58-51 lead.

"There was a little doubt there," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Fortunately we have got guys that kind of like each other, and even though some of them had made bad plays, there was no fingerpointing or anything. Just, 'OK, we got to finish this.'"

Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli lamented his team's turnovers, specifically the two in the final minute of action that allowed Oregon to put that final stiff-arm on the Hawks.

"The players well tell you, I told them 10 turnovers and under, we win going away," Martelli said. "We had 12. Eight in the first half, two in the last couple of possessions."

Oregon's closeout pressure forced a shot-clock violation with 48 seconds left when Saint Joseph's forward Papa Ndao felt uncomfortable launching a corner 3-pointer and dished it to Lamarr Kimble, who couldn't get the shot up in time.

Cook hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the Ducks on top 66-62 with 33 seconds remaining.

Bembry's turnover with 10 seconds left came on an option for the junior wing to drive the lane and either get the layup or kick out to Isaiah Miles for a 3-point attempt. The ball just got away from him.

"You never know what could have happened," Bembry said "I blame this loss on me, even though coach doesn't want me to say that. I can't turn the ball over at the end of the game like that, especially being the leader of this team."

Oregon led 32-27 at halftime. Saint Joseph's leading scorers Miles and Bembry had trouble getting going, scoring only a combined four points in the first half on 2-of-6 shooting. Bembry finished with a team-high 16, and Miles had eight.

The Ducks, meanwhile, struggled from long distance, shooting 2-for-13 from beyond the arc in the opening half, 6-for-24 overall.

Cook and Brooks each had 10 to lead all scorers in the first half.

NOTES: Oregon's win over Holy Cross on Friday meant it is one of five schools to have won a game in each of the last four NCAA Tournaments, a list that also includes Spokane outfit Gonzaga. ... With the win Sunday, Oregon broke the 29-win mark set by the 1939 Ducks squad, which captured the first-ever NCAA Tournament that year. ... G Isaiah Miles' game-winning 3-pointer to lift Saint Joseph's over Cincinnati was the first such shot of his life, the senior said.

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