Men’s basketball upsets Ducks on road

Cougars beat Ducks for second time in two years; first win in Matthew Knight Arena



Senior guard Isaac Bonton led the team in scoring and passing with 23 points and 4 assists.

RYAN ROOT, Evergreen reporter

The Cougars defeated the Oregon Ducks 74-71 in a nail-biting finish to give WSU (10-7, 4-7) their first-ever win in Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.

WSU’s leading scorer was once again senior guard Isaac Bonton, who finished the night with 23 points on 7-13 shooting. Sophomore guard Noah Williams accompanied Bonton as the second-leading scorer with 14 points, which included eight made free throws; this ties his season-high.

Bonton, a Portland native, said these games against Oregon schools mean everything to him as he does everything he can to prevent losing to any team from Oregon.

“I said it before, I’ll say it again, I don’t like to lose at home,” Bonton said.

Sophomore forward DJ Rodman, who recently came back from his ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup against the Ducks and replaced freshman forward Andrej Jakimovski.

Early in the second half, Rodman suffered an accidental collision with freshman center Efe Abogidi where he caught Abogidi’s elbow in the face. He was bleeding from his nose; he went to the bench and did not return for the remainder of the game. He finished the night with nine points.

WSU head coach Kyle Smith said Rodman should be good to return for the Cougars’ next game against Oregon State University on Saturday.

Jakimovski, on the other hand, finally got a little bit of offense going with five points off 2-4 shooting. This is the most points he’s scored since scoring six points against USC a few weeks ago.

“He’s been such a good competitor all year,” Smith said. “Coming off the bench also helped, that takes the heat off a little bit.”

Speaking of injuries, Oregon’s leading scorer this season, senior guard Chris Duarte, went down with an ankle injury in the second half after WSU freshman center Efe Abogidi stepped on his ankle as he tried to close out on an Oregon shooter.

Duarte hobbled off the court with help from the Oregon trainers and did not return for the rest of the game. Oregon’s leading scorer was instead senior forward Eugene Omoruyi, who finished the night with 21 points. Omoruyi would eventually foul out of the game with 18 seconds left on the clock.

WSU started off the first half with a bang on offense, going on an 11-5 run that included three three-pointers. Oregon had an early issue turning over the ball and WSU took advantage of nearly every turnover Oregon committed.

Following the hot start, the Cougars had another edition of their infamous multiple-minute scoring droughts. The only difference in this game was the Ducks had the same scoring drought issues. The Cougars held on to the lead throughout the scoring struggles and they resumed their three-point barrage to finish out the half.

WSU led Oregon 36-31 at halftime. The Cougars tied their season-high in first-half three-pointers with eight, three of which came from Rodman. Meanwhile, the Ducks tied the Cougars’ season-high in most turnovers by a WSU opponent in the first half with 10 — the first time in over a month that a WSU opponent has achieved this feat.

The second half started and the tenacity between both teams turned up considerably. Both sides continued to go through ebbs and flows on offense, but WSU hung on to the lead throughout the half. The score was tied twice in the second half, the second time happening with just under 15 minutes to go. WSU would of course hold a lead for the remainder of the game.

The fouls and turnovers were the real difference makers for both teams. WSU and Oregon combined for over 50 fouls and both teams had over 15 turnovers apiece. Smith said he felt calm during crunch time and never doubted that WSU could hold the lead against Oregon.

Oregon gave WSU some scares in the final minutes with some and-one finishes and forced turnovers. Bonton said this type of tight play late in the game is normal for the better teams in the conference like Oregon.

“[Oregon] is a very strong team this year, very long team, so they’re going to bother us with size,” Bonton said. “And that’s what their game plan is pretty much every game.”

This is the only time that WSU is scheduled to face the Ducks during the regular season, but the two squads could potentially see each other again in the Pac-12 tournament in March.

WSU will finish their Oregon road trip against the Oregon State Beavers at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon. Fans will not be allowed to attend. However, the game will air on the Pac-12 Network.