Oregon ends Arizona’s reign to make Pac-12 final

Mar 16, 2024, 12:36 AM ET

LAS VEGAS– Hardly a minute into Friday night’s Pac-12 tournament semifinal, Oregon watched its two-time all-conference center hit the floor hard and leave the game. The Ducks then trailed by 14 points as No. 6 Arizona appeared well on its way to another conference title game.But N’Faly Dante went back to the game and Oregon shut down Arizona for a 67-59 victory over the top-seeded Wildcats.Jackson Shelstad scored 21 points for the fourth-seeded

Ducks, and Jermaine Couisnard had 20. “We had to keep thinking, “Couisnard said.

“We understand it’s going to come down to a close game.”Editor’s Picks 2 Associated Dante added 14 points and 10 rebounds, overcoming that tough early fall.

He likewise blocked 4 shots.Ducks coach Dana Altman stated Dante had a bruised tailbone. “Jermaine and Dante are our leaders

and it resonates through the team since of them,”Altman said.

“You always take on the character … of your best players. “The Ducks(22-11) advance to Saturday’s national championship against Colorado, a 58-52 winner over No. 22 Washington State in the other semifinal.Arizona (25-8) will discover its seed and destination for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The Wildcats, who were 11 1/2- point favorites according to ESPN Bet, were trying to end up being the first string to three-peat as Pac-12 champs because they won 4 straight in 1988-90 and 2002. There were no conference tournaments between 1991-2001. Oumar Ballo had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Arizona in his 18th double-double this season. Pelle Larsson included 11 points, but Pac-12 Gamer of the Year Caleb Love was held to six points on 2-of-11 shooting.T-Mobile Arena has been called McKale North for Arizona fans, however the Wildcats suffered their very first tournament loss in three seasons under coach Tommy Lloyd. They are 7-1 in the conference tournament and 10-2 under Lloyd in Las Vegas. The other Vegas loss also happened this season, a 96-95 double-overtime setback versus then-No. 14 Florida Atlantic in December.Oregon threatened to flee in the second half, taking a 61-48 lead before Arizona stormed back with a nine-point run. 4 points came on one belongings-a blocking foul and a technical on the Ducks’bench protesting the call.But Arizona’s rally fizzled from there.The Wildcats appeared

on the edge of blowing open the game in the very first half, going on an 11-point go to take a 27-13 lead with 6:52 left. They didn’t make a basket again up until 3:01 into the 2nd half– a stretch of 9 minutes, 53 seconds– as Oregon befuddled

the Wildcats with a zone defense for much of that stretch.That enabled the offense to lastly occur as Oregon cut the deficit to five points early in the 2nd half.”As poorly as we played, as unorganized as we were for 5 or 6 minutes, we were lucky,” Altman said.”So to come out in the second half, we got a respectable start. So I thought that was actually important. Coaches constantly discuss the

last 4 minutes of the first half and first four minutes of the 2nd half, how critical they are.

In this game, we actually required a great start in the second half.”Arizona also had a 5:52 period in the 2nd half without a basket.Oregon almost lost Dante simply 1:02 into the game. The center fell over Ballo before the Arizona huge guy soaked for the Wildcats’ very first points. Dante, who missed out on 14 games this season to injuries, was helped to the locker space. He returned with 7:41 remaining in the very first half.”

That kid showed some character,” Lloyd said. “We had chances early to

extend the lead and we didn’t. And after that we had chances in the 2nd half to make a run and we didn’t. So when you don’t, that’s the outcome. “The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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