The need for Dominic Artis to shake off the rust to get his team going was the storyline for the Ducks heading into their Thursday night matchup against the Huskies.
But, it was the man who filled Artis’ role for much of the season who made all the difference when it counted.
Johnathan Loyd was fouled on a game-tying shot attempt with 16 seconds left in regulation, sinking both free throws to knot the contest at 64-all. Seconds later when Washington’s C.J. Wilcox drove to the hoop, Loyd poked the ball away, and it rolled out of bounds as the clock expired on the first 40 minutes. In overtime, the Ducks went on an energized 13-2 run to sneak away with an 80-77 win.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full, and we sure did,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “I thought we played really hard. I know we played really hard.”
The victory against Washington was the third of the season for third-seeded Oregon and allowed them to advance into the semifinal round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Oregon will face Utah, which upset California earlier in the day.
Loyd’s pair of big plays at the end of regulation turned into a trend for Oregon in overtime, as players stepped up for important tandem sequences to push to victory. Tony Woods got his own rebound and scored a lay-in to give the Ducks their first points of the extra period. Seconds later, he blocked a Husky shot which allowed Arsalan Kazemi to recover a loose ball and get fouled. He made both foul shots, and then after missing a jumper, he put his own miss into the hoop for two.
“I thought Arsalan’s rebound putback in overtime was maybe the game-changing play,” Altman said.
Leading 70-65, Damyean Dotson stole the ball and dished to Loyd, who delivered a behind-the-back to a streaking Kazemi for a crowd-pleasing dunk.
After a Washington bucket, Kazemi capped a personal scoring run of seven with a bucket and the foul shot, sending a resounding game-over vibe through the arena. The Ducks held on to the eight-point lead and nabbed a come-from behind win to continue on in the bracket.
“I didn’t even look at the score,” he said. “If we were down, if we were up, I just tried to play hard.”
In just the overtime period, he notched nine points, part of his overall 14-point, nine-rebound performance.
Woods turned in a career-high 19 points, Dotson had 17 and Singler scored 16; Artis scored zero points.
“I thought (Artis) was ready,” Altman said. “He’s still not.”
Back-and-forth play began the moment the official let loose the ball for the opening toss-up. The Ducks worked a power down low and a finessed outside game, with Woods bullying Huskies in the paint for at-the-rim buckets while Dotson was hot from the guard spot. After 13 minutes of play, Dotson was 5-of-7 from the field, 3-for-4 from three-point for 13 points. Every time he touched the ball, he had his eyes trained on the hoop.
The Ducks fell behind by as many as nine at 23-14, but two of Dotson’s threes helped make up the difference. Big men Woods, Waverly Austin and Ben Carter continued to rack up points, and Oregon took a 32-31 lead with four minutes in the half. E.J. Singler took the ball to the hoop for an open layup on the backside to close the half. At the break, Oregon led 39-34. Dotson had 13 at that point, while Woods and Singler had nine.
In the second half, the Ducks fell behind by as much as six, but Loyd’s three with 4:13 left tied things at 60. Oregon went up two before two jumpers from Wilcox gave the Huskies the edge — but Loyd’s late free throws sent the game into overtime.
The game ended past 11 p.m. and was the tournament’s third overtime battle, which came on the heels of Utah’s wild win over California.
“We’ll let them sleep a little bit,” Altman said. “Tony really likes to sleep, he is our best sleeper. These guys are young; he’ll they stay up late anyway.”
Tipoff for Oregon versus Utah is set for 8:30 p.m. on Friday; Arizona faces UCLA in the other semifinal earlier in the day.