EUGENE, Ore. — The Ducks protected a late lead for the first time in three games and handed head coach Dana Altman his 200th victory in the process, hanging on to beat UCLA on Saturday night, 94-91, before a sold-out crowd of 12,364 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon had been unable to close out Arizona and USC in the previous week, and watched UCLA cut a double-digit lead down to one over the final four minutes Saturday. But Payton Pritchard made four free throws in the final seven seconds and the Ducks held on.
"It shows growth for sure," senior MiKyle McIntosh said. "The last games we were fouling and making bonehead decisions in the last four minutes of the game, the last minute. I think it shows growth and the team coming together, listening to coach. Even though some things didn't go our way, we ended up pulling it out."
How It Happened: The Ducks (13-7, 3-4 Pac-12) relied on their 11 three-pointers and season-low-tying eight turnovers to take an early lead and go up by as many as 18, on a three-pointer by Pritchard for a 63-45 lead less than five minutes into the second half. From there the Bruins used hot three-point shooting of their own to carve into that lead, and nearly come all the way back.
UCLA (13-7, 4-4) got back within 10 at 66-56 when Alex Olesinski hit their third straight three-pointer. The Ducks fended them off for several minutes, with Paul White dunking home two points off an assist from Troy Brown Jr. for an 81-69 lead. But two empty UO possessions followed, and Aaron Holiday got to the rim to get the Bruins within single digits at 81-73. That was the fifth of nine straight made field-goal attempts for UCLA, the last a three-pointer by Thomas Welch capping a 10-0 run that made the score 88-87.
At the other end, Brown made two free throws to get the lead to 90-87, and Welch missed a potential game-tying three. Oregon's eighth turnover was inopportune, as Pritchard tried to dribble out some block, leading to a shot-clock violation. Olesinski made it a one-point game again with two free throws, but Pritchard responded in kind, and did so again after two more free throws by Holiday. Pritchard's last two free throws made it 94-91 with 1.8 seconds to play, and Holiday missed a heave from inside halfcourt at the buzzer.
"The guys found a way," Altman said. "Defensively we didn't get many stops the second half; they kind of took it wherever they wanted. Holiday created a lot of opportunities for their guys, and they shot it well. … (But) a lot of good things. We needed to find a way to win, so to hang on, and Payton hitting those free throws late, was really good."
The game began as a back-and-forth affair as well, with McIntosh and Pritchard making early threes and Prince Ali answering to keep UCLA within 8-7. But from there the Ducks built some separation, making five straight attempts to go on an 11-3 run capped by a Pritchard layin for a 19-10 lead. After UCLA closed within 19-14, Oregon made another 8-of-9 attempts, ending in a Brown three-pointer assisted by Victor Bailey Jr. for a 40-23 lead. Late in the half with the Ducks up 47-34, Bailey scored on a floater over Welch, McIntosh came up with a steal and Pritchard fed Bailey for a thunderous alley-oop that helped Oregon take a 52-38 lead into halftime.
"It helps not being behind all the time," Bailey said. "You go into a halftime with a better feeling; guys are hyping each other up. When you're down, the energy's not there as much."
Who Stood Out: Pritchard continued his recent surge with 25 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting, plus four rebounds and four assists. McIntosh and Bailey added 18 apiece, with the freshman Bailey establishing a new career high. Brown filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
What It Means: Early in the game, the Ducks showed what their potential can be when things are clicking, and they also demonstrated some newfound resiliency by hanging on late. Oregon also avoided its first three-game losing streak since the 2013-14 season.
Notable: During a first-half timeout, three-time defending NCAA Outdoor 800-meter champion Raevyn Rogers was recognized at center court along with the Bowerman Award she received as collegiate track and field's outstanding female in 2017. … The UO men committed no turnovers in the first half, one night after the UO women had just one turnover in all of the second half and overtime at Oregon State on Friday. … Oregon finished the game with 19 assists, and has at least 17 in four straight games. … The Ducks' 11 three-pointers were their most in Pac-12 play this season. They made a season-high 15 twice in nonconference play.
Up Next: The Ducks host a Civil War rematch and look to avenge their loss earlier this month in Corvallis when they host Oregon State in Matthew Knight Arena next Saturday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Story provided by UO Athletics.