SPOKANE, Wash. — Tyler Dorsey had to be held back.
Dorsey, in the waning moments of a slugfest game, had basically gotten tackled as he went for a loose ball at the feet of Saint Joseph’s DeAndre’ Bembry at the top of the key.
Dillon Brooks wrapped his arms around the freshman’s head, told him to calm down, walked him away from the referees as well as the scrum. Ducks players surrounded Dorsey as they walked him toward the sideline. Over and over again, Brooks told him to calm down and when he finally did, Dorsey walked to the line and made two free throws, sealing the 69-64 win for No. 1 Oregon.
Dorsey’s free throws marked the final points of an 18-6 run, showing how the Ducks have the ability to rebound from a sloppy showing earlier in the game (Oregon started by shooting 3-of-11 from the field and ended the first half by going 1-of-6).
But like a true top seed, Oregon controlled the final two and a half minutes, and the best version of itself showed up to make the difference in the game’s outcome.
At several moments during that run, different players stepped up in clutch ways — there was the putback from Dorsey, big 3-pointers from Brooks and the team’s defensive effort both on and off ball.
Three different Oregon players registered double-digit point totals (Brooks, Elgin Cook, Dorsey) and Jordan Bell had 10 rebounds against No. 8 seed Saint Joseph’s. Two days earlier against Holy Cross, Oregon’s game went down a similar path, but with different names — Cook, Brooks, Chris Boucher and Dwayne Benjamin in double-digit points, and Cook with double-digit boards.
It was Oregon’s first true, late-game challenge since mid-March (an overtime win against Arizona), but the Ducks acted like veterans who had been there time and time again. They just hope that moving forward they don’t need to put themselves there and hold themselves back.