Third-seeded Oregon used some timely shooting in a game defined by streaks to avoid an upset at the hands of No. 11 Rhode Island on Sunday, escaping 75-72 during a Midwest Region encounter at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Rhode Island led by as many as 11, but the Ducks kept it close most of the game before turning it on with less than five minutes left in regulation, highlighted by Tyler Dorsey hitting two clutch deep shots in the game's final two minutes.
NCAA March Madness provided a look at the dagger:
Dorsey paced the Ducks, shooting 9-of-10 with a game-high 27 points, good for his fifth straight game north of 20 points. Dillon Brooks found himself in foul trouble yet had 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting. The Ducks won the battle on the glass (35-28), 15 coming on the offensive end.
The Rams flexed depth many teams seeded higher wish they could, with Stanford Robinson (six points per game) exploding off the bench for 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Freshman Cyril Langevine added another nine off the bench in a game where star forward Hassan Martin got into foul trouble early and didn't score.
Call it a total team effort, as the Rams shot 50.8 percent from the floor (30-of-59) compared to Oregon's 48.1 percent (25-of-52). Among starters, Kuran Iverson scored nine, Jared Terrell 15 and E.C. Matthews 13. The Rams were particularly scrappy on defense, forcing eight steals and two blocks. Maybe the biggest negative was the lack of offensive aggressiveness, with the Rams shooting just eight free throws compared to 27 for Oregon.
Both teams came in with an impressive win on Friday. Oregon (ninth in ESPN's RPI rankings) dropped 93 points to breeze past 14th-seeded Iona. It had four starters with 16 or more points. Rhode Island (RPI 37) upset sixth-seeded Creighton 84-72 with all five starters in double digits.
The first half of Sunday's game felt like a boxing match, both sides trying to impose their will and trading blows. Rhode Island wanted to slow down and play the half-court game, while Oregon mostly ran with four guards.
One would think Oregon would be ahead after winning the first-half rebounding battle 18-13, but Rhode Island took a 46-38 advantage into the half.
Oregon did plenty of chirping during the opening stanza, with Dylan Ennis even getting under Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley's skin, as captured by John Canzano of KGW News:
Later, referees hit Brooks with a technical for jawing, to which he had an interesting explanation, per Bri Amaranthus of CSN Northwest:
In other words, Brooks pulled a bit of this, both with the referees and Oregon head coach Dana Altman:
Rhode Island set the tone with this early block:
And its late-half momentum is best summed up by two plays:
The Rams closed the half by hitting 11 of their final 12 shots. They finished that hot stretch with a 14-2 run.
This pace kept up for the first 11 minutes of the second half, with the Rams forcing turnovers and Robinson and Dorsey continuing to duel.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla summed up the vibe of it best:
Counting out an uptempo team is never wise, though, as Oregon got hot and went on a 23-10 run to take its first lead of the game with 4:51 to go since the first half (3:29 mark).
And when Oregon fell behind again, Dorsey came through with this massive shot:
As captured above, Dorsey hit the eventual game-winner a little later, leading to quite the celebration:
Oregon advances to take on a red-hot shooting team in the form of seventh-seeded Michigan, which turned it on late and upset second-seeded Louisville on Sunday, 73-69.
After Sunday, fans can expect something akin to a track meet between two of the best backcourts in the country.
After, a sense of relief swept the Oregon locker room.
Altman led the charge in this regard, joking with Dorsey about his stat line, according to Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com:
On a more serious note, Altman said he was “disappointed” about the technical foul on Brooks, according to Aaron J. Fentress of CSN Ducks. As for Brooks himself, Fentress captured his reaction: “Dillon Brooks said that all he said to Rhode Island players to get the tech was ‘This is a big man's game.’ He called the officials biased.”
For Rhode Island, Hurley shed some light on Martin, saying the forward has been dealing with a knee issue, according to Bill Koch of the Providence Journal.
Advanced metrics courtesy of ESPN.com.