Oregon Rolls into NIT Quarterfinals
By Jesse Wendel
EUGENE, Ore. – Most eyes were probably on the NCAA tournament this weekend, but Sunday’s National Invitation Tournament matchup between Iowa (18-17) and Oregon (24-9) at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene offered perhaps the day’s best fireworks. When it was over, the Ducks had cracked the century mark in a 107-98 win.
After an early barrage of threes from Iowa, this one looked to be over almost from the opening tip. But, Oregon fought back from an early 14-point deficit to take the lead three minutes into the second half. Then, it was off to the races. When the dust settled, Oregon had a victory in what went down as the highest scoring game this season between NCAA Division I teams.
Early in the game, Roy Devyn Marble of the Hawkeyes almost single-handedly took the Ducks out of this one. Lighting up the scoreboard with a series of deep three-pointers, Oregon could not stop Marble. Coming into the game, he had hit on 15-48 threes for the season; against the Ducks, he was 7-8 beyond the arc on the way to tallying 31 points.
Though Oregon had no answer for Marble, as it turned out, it didn’t matter; Iowa simply could not keep up with the more athletic Ducks. Down the stretch, Duck forward Olu Ashaolu took the game over, penetrating at will. Iowa tried to make Ashaolu beat them at the free-throw line, but Ashaolu, who shot a measly 50% for the season from the charity stripe, was 8-11 from the line, finishing with 22 points.
E.J. Singler added 25 and Carlos Emory, Garrett Sim and Devoe Joseph all finished in double figures. That balance showed down the stretch as the Ducks simply outpaced the Hawkeyes with a season-best 61 second half points.
The crowd of 8,647 was roaring most of the second half, though dead silence permeated the arena late when Ashaolu took a shot to the head diving out of bounds for a loose ball. He wouldn’t return, though by that point, the Ducks had finished the Hawkeyes off.
After it was over, the Ducks huddled at mid-court with NFL players Dennis Dixon, Ed Dickson and Ndamukong Suh, who took in the game from court-side seats. Dixon and Dickson both played football at Oregon, while Suh, who played at Nebraska, grew up in Portland.
The Ducks now turn their attention to their quarterfinal matchup against Pac-12 foe Washington on Tuesday in Seattle. The winner of that one punches their ticket to the NIT Final Four next weekend in New York at Madison Square Garden.