College

Oregon makes another sales pitch

Ducks hand UCLA loss before sellout crowd
Staff report

EUGENE - Oregon got 25 points, including four key free throws, from sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard, and beat UCLA 94-91 Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon, which improved to 13-7 overall, and 3-4 in Pac-12 games, led by as many as 18 points in the second half before the Bruins rallied to within 88-77 with a 10-0 run in the final two minutes, and the game became a free-throw battle.

Oregon made all six of its free throws, while UCLA, 13-7 and 4-4, countered by making all four of its attempts.

The Bruins missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

Oregon’s win came a year after it beat the Bruins on a last-second 3-pointer, which was part of a stirring run to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

This season, the Ducks are essentially a long-shot to make the Tournament for a sixth-straight season.

MiKyle McIntosh and Victor Bailey Jr. had 18 points each for the Ducks Saturday. Troy Brown added 17 points.

The Ducks had three players in double figures by halftime and led 52-38 at the break. They shot 55.6 percent (20 of 36) from the field and had zero first-half turnovers.

Oregon returns to action Saturday with a home game against Oregon State, looking to square the in-state series after the Beavers won the first meeting in Corvallis in December.

 

Cristobal reflects on Alabama

New Oregon coach has plenty of experience with Saban
National Report

Oregon coach Mario Cristobol spent four years under Nick Saban as an assistant coach at Alabama.

To say he learned a lot in his time in Tuscaloosa would be an understatement.

Cristobol, who was named the Ducks head coach on Friday, was asked about Saban’s influence on his coaching career Sunday during an appearance on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM.

“He’s a consummate professional,” Cristobal said. “He’s detailed, a wealth of knowledge. Whether it be in-season, off-season, regiments, structures, practice scheduling, recruiting, setting up a staff, there’s so many things that you learn in your time there. You get the chance to get your PhD in football. That’s what it is.”

Cristobal was officially promoted to head coach a year to the day after Willie Taggart was introduced as the coach at Florida State.

Cristobal -- the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach -- was named interim coach for the Las Vegas Bowl. However, on Friday, that interim label was removed.

Before heading to Eugene, Oregon, Cristobal spent four seasons as offensive line coach at Alabama. He has six seasons of head coaching experience at Florida International, where he went 27-47, including 20-26 in conference, with two bowl appearances from 2007-12. He was also an assistant at Miami, his alma mater.

All of which shaped his career, he said on Sunday.

“But along the way, there’s no doubt, take a little bit of (Saban) and take a little bit of Jimmy Johnson,” he said. “Let’s not forget about ol’ boy down in Miami back in the day and the things that we were able to accomplish down there.”

Cristobal played his college ball at Miami, where he was an offensive tackle from 1989-92.

Oregon went 7-5 this season, including 1-4 in games without starting quarterback Justin Herbert, who missed time with a broken collarbone.

The Ducks face Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, entering the game as a 6-point favorite.

French returns to the Bluff

UP hires former standout as women's soccer coach
Staff report

PORTLAND - The University of Portland officially introduced Michelle French as the new women’s soccer head coach with a reception on Monday afternoon at the Chiles Center.

French returns to Portland where she helped lead the Pilots to three NCAA Final Four appearances, and was a National Player of the Year finalist as a senior in 1998. A defender, French earned All-American honors with the Pilots, and she went on to become an Olympic medalist with the women’s national team.

French, who hails from Fort Lewis, Wash., spent the past 12 years coaching in the U.S. Soccer system, most recently as an assistant coach with the senior Women’s National Team. She also served on the USA National Team staff at both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

French was the first full-time head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team beginning in 2013. She coached the USA at the 2014 and 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cups. She was on the shortlist for the CONCACAF Female Coach of the Year Award in 2016.

As a player, French earned 14 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1997-2001. She was a member of the 2000 Olympic Team in Australia that claimed a Silver Medal. She also was on the U.S. Under-21 National Team from 1994-99, serving as the team captain the last two years.

She replaces Garrett Smith, who guided the team the past 15 years recording a 222-78-24 record. The Pilots were 5-13-1 this season, including 2-7 in West Coast Conference play.

 

OSU snares its top prospect

Jonathan Smith returns to Corvallis as head coach
Staff report

Oregon State has finalized a deal to bring Jonathan Smith back to Corvallis as its next head football coach.

Sports Illustrated and The Associated Press reported earlier Wednesday that Oregon State chose to hire Smith, a former Beavers quarterback who has been part of a Washington staff that has led the Huskies to consecutive double-digit-win seasons.

"I want to thank President Ray and [athletic director] Scott Barnes for their confidence in presenting me this opportunity to return to Oregon State University to be the head coach," Smith said. "I also want to express my gratitude to Coach (Chris) Petersen for providing me a path to realize my dream as a head coach."

Smith has been working as quarterbacks coach for Petersen since 2012, starting at Boise State, and then at Washington, starting in 2014.

He also had stops as an assistant at Montana and Idaho. He was a graduate assistant at Oregon State from 2002-03.

Smith was a walk-on in Corvallis, playing for the Beavers from 1998-2001. He started a quarterback on Oregon State's 2000 team that went 11-1 and defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl under coach Dennis Erickson.

"We are very excited about having Coach Smith lead our program," Barnes said. "We interviewed several qualified candidates and Coach Smith emerged as our top choice. He brings to Oregon State football an impressive plan to build our program. He has a unique perspective on what it means to be a part of Beaver Nation and to be successful for our student-athletes on and off the field."

A fan favorite during his playing days, Smith ranks third on Oregon State's career list with 55 touchdown passes and 9,680 passing yards.

Oregon State has been in the market for a new coach since Gary Andersen surprisingly stepped down in early October after a 1-5 start, with the victory coming over Portland State.

 

Taggart bolts for Florida State

After turnaround season, Oregon football coach goes back to Florida
Staff report

Willie Taggart is headed back South, accepting the Florida State football head coaching position not quite a year after leaving the University of South Florida to become head coach at of the University of Oregon program.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens made the announcement Tuesday, and FSU introduced Taggart to its community on Wednesday.

A native of Bradenton, Fla., Taggart, 41, began his head-coaching career by turning around Western Kentucky from 2010-2012, before doing the same at South Florida from 2013-2016. His debut years at Western Kentucky and USF both ended with two-win seasons, but not only did he turn those schools around, he did so quickly and efficiently. His second and third seasons at Western Kentucky ended with seven wins, culminating with a bowl trip in 2012.

In Tampa, he turned a USF program from 2-10 to 10-2 in just three seasons, with the biggest factor in that being his recruiting ability. He locked down the highly-coveted Tampa recruiting scene at USF and, in this last year, even got Tampa-area blue-chip recruits to cross the country with him and commit to Oregon - making the incoming class the top-rated in the nation.

In Eugene, the Ducks went from 4-8, to 7-5, with four of the five losses coming while sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert recovered from a shoulder injury.

Taggart's move was expected after Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin last week, and replaced him with Jimbo Fisher from FSU.

Oregon is set to play Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 26.

 

Oregon steps forward again

The Ducks reach the Pac-12 Tournament final for third-straight year
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Dylan Ennis was prone on the hardwood, looking up to the ceiling of T-Mobile Arena. He was flexing. He was yelling. He knew the Ducks were bound for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament championship game.

Just seconds earlier with the Ducks holding a two-point lead, he put his head down and went to the rim, making contact with Cal’s 7-footer Kingsley Okoroh. As Ennis fell to the floor, the ball dropped through the hoop and Ducks fans in attendance went wild. Once he buried the free throw Oregon had a five-point lead with 22 seconds left and no worries.

Ennis’ key play loomed large in the 73-65 win, which sets up the top-seeded Ducks with No. 2 seed Arizona in Saturday’s Pac-12 Tourney title game, Oregon’s third straight under coach Dana Altman.

“I love Oregon basketball,” Ennis said. “For us to be in the championship again shows that we’re one of the national powerhouses. I think a lot of people are going to start respecting us around the country.”

The contest got off to a sobering start when Cal star senior Jabari Bird landed on his head after toppling over Oregon’s Jordan Bell trying to block a shot. Bird had to leave the game just one minute after it started, and was eventually placed on a stretcher and transported to a hospital for CT scans, according to Pac-12 Networks’ Ashley Adamson.

In Bird’s absence, Cal guard Grant Mullins did a fine impression, going 7-of-8 from the field and 5-of-5 from beyond the arc en route to 23 points, but the Bears couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch.

“It's a big loss, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that level of production,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “It's not an easy thing to do, but I thought our guys did a great job battling and competing.”

Likewise, Oregon's scoring leader, Dillon Brooks, spent a lot of time on the sidelines Friday. He only played 21 minutes after picking up his fourth foul two minutes into the second half, sitting out the next 13 minutes of the game.

With Brooks spending nearly half the game on the bench, Dorsey paced the Ducks offense with 23 points, going 9-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-6 from distance. Dorsey scored eight of Oregon’s first 12 points and never took his foot off the pedal.

“Everybody has to pick it up and pick up their role,” Dorsey said. “That's what we did tonight. We can't control how the refs are going to call it, and they called a couple on Dillon early and everybody had to pick up.”

Meanwhile, Brooks finished with 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting and grabbed six rebounds, taking responsibility for his performance in the locker room following the game.

“I had an off day,” Brooks said. “Shots weren’t falling and I was fouling a lot, cheap fouls. But you know, it’s a team game and my teammates picked me up.”

Oregon carried a 36-33 lead into the locker room at halftime before stretching the lead to as many as 13 with about 13 minutes left. But Cal crept back, eventually cutting the lead to just two when freshman Charlie Moore sank a couple of big free throws the possession before Ennis’ and-one. Moore played beyond his years once again, scoring 15 points, but the Bears are now relegated to waiting on Selection Sunday to see if their name is called.



Ducks soar in second half

Oregon overcomes horrid first half for 68-65 win at Cal
Staff report

A season-low point total in the first half only served to make Wednesday's game at Cal more exciting for Oregon men's basketball fans who travelled to Berkeley, Calif.

Dillon Brooks scored the final three of his 22 points on a long-range shot with 0.2 seconds left to rally the No. 6 Ducks to a 68-65 win over the upset-minded Golden Bears.

Cal held Oregon to just 16 points through 20 minutes - a low for any team coach Dana Altman has guided since arriving in Eugene in 2010, and led 32-16 early in the second half. Oregon still trailed by 10 with 4:15 left before finding a rhythm behind Dillon Brooks and Christian Boucher, who combined for 35 points in the second half.

Oregon finally took its first lead with 1:51 left on a Boucher lay-up, and eventually finished the game on a 19-6 run capped by Brooks' basket - his second game-winning shot in the final second this season.

Oregon improved to 25-4 overall and 14-2 in Pac-12 play heading into a road game at Stanford Saturday.

Cal dropped to 18-9, 9-6, and will play host to Oregon State Saturday.

 

 

Beavers head to NCAAs on a roll

OSU wins the Pac-12 Tournament to continue hot streak
March 6, 2016 / Staff report

SEATTLE - Oregon State finally conquered the Pac-12 where it counts, the conference tournament.

Senior center Ruth Hamblin had 23 points, a career-high 20 rebounds and five blocked shots on Sunday night to lead the seventh-ranked Beavers to a 69-57 victory over UCLA in the championship game of the Pacific-12 Conference women's basketball tournament.

It was the first title in school history for the Beavers (28-4), who fell to USC in 2014 in their only other championship-game appearance. It was also their 18th win in the last 19 games.

“This is an unreal feeling,” Hamblin said. “The Pac-12 is so competitive … we worked so hard and we played like our lives were on the line.”

Pac-12 Player of the Year Jamie Weisner earned more hardware by being named the tournament’s Outstanding Player. She had 19 points and five rebounds on Sunday and 59 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in three tournament wins.

“I don’t think I’ve ever cried after a win but that happened tonight,” Weisner said. “I’m just blessed to be part of this program. We came a long way in four years and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Junior guard Sydney Wiese had 21 points and joined Weisner and Hamblin on the all-tournament team. Senior forward Deven Hunter added five points and 12 rebounds to help OSU double the Bruins on the boards, 50-24.

“If you know the whole story of where we started to where we are now is remarkable,” sixth-year OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “The performance we put together tonight is what dreams are made of.

“Ruth was unbelievable. It’s hard to score against us 5-on-5 and a lot of that is because of Ruth. She has continued to improve and it’s been fabulous to watch.”

OSU used a 17-2 run over the final 6:38 of the first half to take a 44-17 intermission lead, and it led by 31 points late in the third quarter. UCLA got within 63-54 with 2:12 remaining, but Weisner answered with a basket with 1:43 to play to restore the double-digit lead and a layup by Hamblin with one minute left buried the Bruins once and for all.

“We were dialed, our shots were falling,” Wiese said of the first half. “To win this year means a lot,” after falling in the title game in 2014 and being upset in the opening round in 2015. “It was a team win. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone.”

The Beavers led by as many as 31 points in downing the Bruins for second time in three games this season. UCLA won in early January when Wiese was sidelined with a hand injury.

Hamblin had a double-double in each tournament game and totaled 50 points, 44 rebounds and 11 blocks. Her 20 rebounds eclipsed her previous high on 19, set against California on Feb. 28, and tied the school record.

She set the career tournament record for blocked shots (29) and also set a Pac-12 blocks record with 405. The old mark was 402, set by Stefanie Kaspersky of Oregon from 1987-90.

OSU advanced to the championship game by defeating USC 63-53 in the quarterfinals on Friday night and Washington 57-55 in the semifinals on Saturday night.

The Beavers started quickly, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers in the first quarter while building a 20-12 advantage. Weisner had two 3-pointers and eight points; Wiese had five points, and Hamblin had four points and six rebounds.

The poured it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Bruins 24-5 to take a 44-17 halftime advantage. Wiese was 4 of 5 from deep and had 18 first-half points; Weisner had 12 points, Hamblin nine points and 11 rebounds and Hunter five points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“It was amazing,” Wiese said of the first half. “It started with our defense, we were getting open, making shots and things were real clicking.”

UCLA was 8-for-34 from the field in the first half and missed both 3-point attempts. In the four quarters that essentially determined the championship – the second half of the semifinals and the first half of the finals – OSU held its opponent to 35 points, 14 of 66 shooting overall (.212) and 1-for-11 (.091) shooting from beyond the arc.

The Beavers will learn the destination and opponent for the upcoming NCAA tournament during the NCAA Selection Show, scheduled for 4 p.m. March 14 on ESPN.

The first two rounds of the 64-team tournament will be held March 18-21 at 16 campus sites around the country. The Women’s Final Four is April 3-5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Ducks headed for key playoffs

Will a trip to the Final Four get passion for the UO program back to The Pit level?
March 7, 2016

If something dramatic happens to the University of Oregon football team - like a dramatic turnaround that’s happened in the past decade at schools such as Michigan and Texas, could the Ducks become a basketball school?

After all, the team is headed for its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament after winning the Pac-12 regular season title. And the team appears built for post-season success for many years with a hot coach in Dana Altman.

So, could Eugene be as much a basketball town as football? That’s a key topic for the ninth episode of Sportsland, Oregon 2016.

As the Ducks head into the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, and then a possible No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, a strong result (Final Four) could get the passion for the program heading toward making it one of the stronger ones in the conference. And will that passion ever approach what it was at The Pit in it's newer, plush arena - The Mat?

The Blazers, Timbers and youth basketball all come up from our base at Pour Sports in Southeast Portland.


Ducks own the Pac-12

Oregon heads into tournament with top seed after weekend sweep
March 6, 2016 / Staff report

LOS ANGELES - The University of Oregon might be a basketball school, not football. At least for the spring.

Tyler Dorsey scored 19 points, Elgin Cook added 17 and No. 9 Oregon beat Southern California 76-66 on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 title outright, the Ducks’ first since 2002 and fifth in school history.

Oregon (25-6, 14-4) overcame a 20-minute power outage in the first half at Galen Center and the Trojans’ early run in the second half to close out the regular season with its fifth straight victory and 11th in 13 games.

The Trojans (20-11, 9-9) lost to Oregon for the 12th straight time, the Ducks’ longest-ever winning streak against USC. Katin Reinhardt and Nikola Jovanovic scored 12 points each, and Jordan McLaughlin added 10 for the Trojans, who went 2-6 in their last eight games.

The Trojans opened both halves strong, outscoring the Ducks 13-4 to start the second half and take a 50-48 lead, their first since early in the game. After going 9 of 10 from the free throw line in the first half, they struggled in the second, making just 8 of 18.

USC tied the game for the last time at 52-all on Reinhardt’s inside basket, but made just one field goal in the final five minutes.

Casey Benson’s three-pointer gave the Ducks a 63-56 lead after Dillon Brooks made his first basket of the game with 8 minutes to go. Brooks came in averaging a team-leading 17.2 points but got two fouls in the first half and went 1-of-6 from the field.

Dwayne Benjamin added 14 points and Jordan Bell had 10 for the Ducks, who extended their lead to 10 points on Benjamin’s three-pointer with less than two minutes to go.

The lights inside Galen Center went out with 5  minutes left in the first half and Oregon leading 31-22. The Ducks were in the midst of a 28-7 run that produced their largest lead, 37-22. Cook scored nine points and Dorsey added eight in the spurt.

Once the lights came back on, the Ducks scored six straight to finish their big run. The Trojans answered with a 15-7 spurt, getting 3-pointers from Reinhardt and Bennie Boatwright, to end the half trailing 44-37.

Shrugging off their history of slow starts, the Trojans opened the game by outscoring the Ducks 15-9. Cook and Dorsey combined to score 13 straight points in launching the Ducks’ dominant offensive stretch that helped them shoot 59 percent in the half.

TIP-INS: The Ducks are the top seed for the league tourney in Las Vegas. ... They swept the L.A. schools, having beaten UCLA 76-68 on Thursday, when Dorsey scored 20 points. ... They improved to 16-0 when holding opponents under 70 points.

UP NEXT: Oregon opens the Pac-12 Tournament as the top seed Thursday in Las Vegas at noon.

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