By Joseph Santoliquito
SPOKANE, WA (CBS) – Phil Martelli knew his team was playing with a time bomb. The St. Joe’s coach watched as his team hung around, and hung around, and hung around, despite sloppy mistakes against No. 1-seeded Oregon on Sunday in the West Regional second-round game in Spokane Arena, in Spokane, WA.
The Hawks couldn’t score. They kept turning the ball over. Their leading scorer was in a funk. Nothing was working. Yet with 5:33 to play, thanks to freshman guard Lamarr Kimble’s basket, St. Joe’s held a 58-51 edge over the top-seeded Ducks.
And then it all came apart in the last three minutes, as Oregon (30-6) survived a massive scare from the Hawks (28-8), winning 69-64, and advancing in the West Regionals to play Duke in the Sweet 16.
The Hawks had a chance to tie with less than :12 to play, but DeAndre Bembry mishandled the ball and Oregon, which is riding a 10-game winning streak and last lost on Feb. 13 (against Stanford, 76-72), sealed the victory.
At times, the Hawks couldn’t do anything against Ducks’ sophomore Dillon Brooks, Oregon’s leading scorer who entered the game averaging 16.6 points a game. Brooks finished with a game-high 25.
Isaiah Miles, the Hawks’ leading scorer, went almost 20 minutes without scoring a point. Then he played a key role in a St. Joe’s 10-0 run that tied the game at 45-45 with 10:20 left to play. With 8:13 to play, Kimble’s three-pointer gave the Hawks their first lead, 50-49.
DeAndre Bembry finished with a team-high 16, and Miles ended with 8, on 3-of-9 shooting.
St. Joe’s trailed 32-27 at halftime. The Hawks had their problems offensively in the half. The Hawks’ two leading scorers, Miles and Bembry, who average a combined 35.9 points a game had a combined sum total of 4 points in the initial 20 minutes against Oregon, on 2-of-6 shooting.
Much of the credit had to go to Oregon’s 1-2-2 press and denying Bembry and Miles the ball. Senior Aaron Brown was a shining light for the Hawks, scoring a team-high 9 points in the half on 4-of-8 shooting, including a three-pointer. Eight turnovers certainly didn’t help the Hawks.
Oregon, which blocked five Hawk shots in the half, didn’t fare much better offensively. An Elgin Cook dunk was the only basket the Ducks could manage in the last 3:02. Despite the poor half offensively, St. Joe’s shot slightly better than Oregon, hitting 9-of-24 (37.5%), to the Ducks’ 9-27 (33%). The Ducks did receive 10 points each from Cook and Brooks, who combined to shoot 5 of 11.