Sophomore forward LeKendric Longmire registered 15 points, five rebounds, and four steals to help lead the University of Oregon men's basketball team to a 66-64 win against Northern Colorado in Eugene on Friday.
The Ducks, playing their season opener in front of 8,273 people at McArthur Court, improved to 1-0 overall with the win. The Bears dropped to 0-1 on the year.
Down 66-63 in the final seconds of the game, Northern Colorado's Yahosh Bonner was fouled by UO sophomore guard Kamyron Brown on a last-second three-point attempt. After sinking the first free throw to close within two points, Bonner missed the second attempt—requiring an intentional miss on the third attempt. Freshman center Michael Dunigan grabbed the final miss to seal the win for the Ducks.
Dunigan was UO's only other player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points while adding seven rebounds in his first collegiate game. Fellow freshman Garrett Sim came off the bench to contribute nine points in 18 minutes of work.
Northern Colorado's Jefferson Mason scored 15 points for the Bears, who shot just 35.5 percent from the field and turned the ball over 20 times. UNC's Robert Palacios added six points and 11 rebounds.
Longmire hit his first shot two minutes into the game, and then sparked a 13-4 run with a lay-up and a dunk with 5:47 left in the first half that helped the Ducks take a 28-24 lead. Oregon went on to lead 30-28 at halftime.
The teams went back and forth, exchanging the lead several times over the opening minutes in the second half. Northern Colorado's largest lead in the second half was three points, holding a 42-39 advantage at the 13:20 mark.
A three-pointer by senior guard Churchill Odia gave the Ducks at 38-36 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining. Oregon then went on a 13-3 run over the next four minutes to build up their largest lead of the contest, 61-49.
The Bears would narrow the lead to a single basket on two occasions down the stretch. UNC trailed 61-59 with 3:11 left in the game, and 66-64 with three seconds left.
Although many expected Oregon to win this contest by a much larger margin, you cannot take this victory away from this very young Ducks team. With freshmen making up more than half of the roster, a team this young will experience major growing pains.
For young teams, the top item on their to-do lists should be to get their first win. This Oregon team did just that. Now they can focus on progressing as a team.
Oregon returns to the floor on Monday night when the Ducks host Oakland. Tip-off is slated for 7:07 p.m. (PST) at McArthur Court in Eugene. The game will be televised by the Oregon Sports Network and broadcasted on radio by OSN.