Brooks’ 3 leads No. 6 Oregon past Cal 68-65
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Game-winning shots are becoming old hat for Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Doing it on the road to silence a partisan crowd was a bit of a change.
Brooks hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds to play to cap a comeback from 16 points down and No. 6 Oregon beat California 68-65 on Wednesday night to keep its hopes alive for a Pac-12 title.
Brooks had previously hit game-winning 3-pointers to beat Tennessee in the Maui Invitational and UCLA at home in December before pulling off the trick once again to stun the Golden Bears.
”Especially on the road it feels so good,” he said. ”You look at every single crowd member out there and look at them look down at themselves. They thought they had the game and we stole it from them.”
The Ducks (25-4, 14-2) trailed by 16 points early in the second half and were down 10 with just over 4 minutes left before rallying for the win that moved them a half-game behind Arizona for first place in the conference. Oregon holds the tiebreaker.
Brooks led the Ducks with 22 points and Chris Boucher added 18.
”We’re trying to fight for the Pac-12 first seed,” Brooks said. ”We would have been really sick if we lost this.”
Jabari Bird scored 20 points to lead the way for the Bears (18-9, 9-6), whose hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth were dealt a big blow with this loss.
”Obviously if we had won it, it would have been a signature win for us, what we’ve been looking for,” Bird said. ”It’s an uphill battle. It’s going to be tough getting to the tournament, but we can do it.”
Consecutive 3-pointers by Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Payton Pritchard cut Cal’s 10-point lead to one with just under 3 minutes left. Boucher then gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a layup that made it 62-61 with 1:48 to go.
Grant Mullins and Brooks traded jumpers before Bird missed a contested 3-pointer with 28 seconds to go. Tyler Dorsey hit one free throw before Ivan Rabb tied the game with a putback of his own miss with 9.7 seconds to play.
That set the stage for Brooks, who hit the 3 that set off a wild celebration for the Ducks.
Oregon: The Ducks finished the season undefeated at home where they have a nation’s best 42-game winning streak. They need to prove they can win away from home if they want to have success in the postseason. This comeback win was a start but the task will only get tougher in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.
California: The Bears had been seeking a signature win to boost their hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But they blew the lead and a chance at that win as they fell to 1-6 against ranked teams with the only win coming last month at then-No. 25 USC. Cal could get another shot at a top team next month in the Pac-12 Tournament.
”I’m not a part of that committee,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. ”I think we’re an NCAA Tournament team but we still have work to do.”
SPEED `EM UP
The game turned when Oregon went to the full-court press in the second half. It led to several turnovers and also helped Oregon increase the tempo to their liking.
”We started pressuring and started getting them off their game,” Brooks said. ”It speeded up the game. They’re a slow team. We really sped them up and turned it in our direction.”
Brooks’ game-winning shot came from almost the exact same place on the court where Sabrina Ionescu hit a game-winner last month to give the Ducks a victory at Cal.
Oregon: Visits Stanford on Saturday.
California: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.
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