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Oregon Holds off Utah 66-65, Ducks Secure 14th Straight 20-win season

The Ducks defeated the Utes at home in thrilling fashion.

The Oregon Ducks (20-11, 12-8 Pac-12) won their 20th game of the season on Saturday night, holding off the Utah Utes to win 66-65 in their last Pac-12 home game.

N’Faly Dante shined during senior night, scoring 19 points while shooting 8-of-9 from the field to go along with 12 rebounds and 4 steals. His second-half efforts gave Oregon life when the offense struggled to score.

“I thought we missed him some in the first half and they were doubling him every time he caught it,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “Last two games, he’s gone 18 for 19.”

Jermaine Couisnard also had a solid night in his final game at Matthew Knight Arena putting up 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

The fifth-year guard helped spark Oregon's second half comeback.

The fifth-year guard helped spark Oregon's second half comeback.

Jackson Shelstad started the game off aggressively scoring eight straight points to give Oregon an early 10-point lead five minutes into the game.

After Shelstad’s eight quick points, Branden Carlson went after Kwame Evans Jr. and Kario Oquendo in the paint, scoring back-to-back layups off of Utah’s pick-in roll offense.

Carlson jump-started Utah’s offense as the Utes clicked in transition finding open players for open threes. Utah’s leading scorer erupted for 12 points in five minutes to give Utah their first lead of the game 21-19.

Oregon’s offense sputtered while Utah grew their lead.

The Ducks couldn’t make a field goal for 5:54 going 0-for-9 while the Utes went on a 6-0 run.

“In the first half, I just thought that we gave up way too many open looks,” Altman said.

Brennan Rigsby broke the scoreless streak from the floor, driving in for an easy bucket after getting his defender off balance with a hesitation move. Oquendo gave the lead back to Oregon with a steal that he took coast-to-coast with the euro step to reverse layup, as the Ducks went up 26-25.

Rigsby finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds shooting 3-of-6 from the field.

Rigsby finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds shooting 3-of-6 from the field.

Oregon struggled from the three-point line shooting 3-for-12 from beyond the arc. Add that to the Ducks shooting 34% from the floor and Oregon was lucky to go into halftime trailing by five points.

Carlson came out of halftime going at Evans again in the paint but left the game early in the second half with a wrist injury after fighting for a rebound with Dante.

After Carlson left, Utah struggled to score and couldn’t hold onto their eight-point lead as the Ducks continued to chip away.

“There’s no doubt him not playing makes a difference,” Altman said. “But that’s just part of the game. We’ve suffered through that for a few years here. It didn’t help them, but we got four guys that aren’t playing too.”

Oregon got their first lead of the second half seven minutes in, as Evans scored off a pick-and-roll to go up 48-47.

Utah immediately took back the lead with Hunter Erickson scoring back-to-back three-pointers.

That’s when Dante took over.

Couisnard threw up a lob for Dante as he emphatically dunked on Erickson while getting fouled. He stomped and flexed to illustrate his authority in the paint.

Dante was perfect from the field in the second half shooting 7-of-7 from the field.

Dante was perfect from the field in the second half shooting 7-of-7 from the field.

Oregon’s big man scored six straight points to give the Ducks a five-point lead with 8:35 left in the game. The Ducks went 5-for-5 from the field holding Utah scoreless for 6:27 (0-for-6) while going on their run.

Oregon clung to their lead in the final four minutes as the Ducks would be held scoreless after going up 66-60 after Couisnard sunk a free throw.

Up six points, Gabe Madsen cut Oregon’s lead down to three with 3:49 left in the game. Deivon Smith cut the lead down to one after making two free throws with 38 seconds left on the game clock.

The Ducks made a defensive stand in the final seconds of the game contesting Ben Carlson’s last-second three-pointer holding on to their one-point.

“I feel like we had to grind it out,” Couisnard said. “That was the biggest thing for us. Even if we don’t score, which we took the lead already, we had to get stops.”

After Thursday’s loss to Colorado, Oregon will have the fourth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and play their first game in Las Vegas next Thursday, March 14.

“We’re just fortunate we don’t play till Thursday,” Altman said. “I’m glad that we got into the top four. I’m glad we don’t play until Thursday.”

Oregon will have to win the Pac-12 Championship for them to get a bid for the Big Dance, otherwise, it will be a third straight NIT postseason for the Ducks.

“We’re going to go swing away and see what we can make happen,” Altman said. “With Dante, you’ve always got a chance. If we can get him the ball enough we got a chance.”