EPIC MELTDOWN AT MKA – UCLA Storms Back from 17 Point Deficit to Stun the Ducks 87-84 in Overtime

It was one of the colossal melt downs in recent history.

And it was done in front of the home crowd which made it sting even more.

Injuries or no injuries, when you’re up 17 with seven minutes to play – and 10 points with less than two minutes remaining, this Oregon team needs to figure out how to close out games.

Instead, the Ducks snatched a loss out of the jaws of victory and allowed UCLA to come back and tie the game 80-80 at the end of regulation and then win the game 87-84 in overtime.

It was a crushing loss – to this teams psyche and to the fans.

With the devastating loss, Oregon fell to 9-6 overall and 0-2 in Pac-12 play.   The Bruins, despite watching their coach Steve Alford get fired at the end of December, improved to 10-6 overall and 3-0 in conference play.

The Ducks certainly had their hands on the throats of the Bruins all evening and for every big bucket UCLA scored, Oregon would answer,….and then some!

Even after the 17-point lead, Oregon still had a 72-62 lead with 1:45 remaining.

UCLA then suddenly found their three-point stroke and took advantage.

Chris Smith hit a three from the left wing to make it 72-65 and Jules Bernard nailed a three to make it 74-68 with 50.7 seconds to play.

After Payton Pritchard made two free throws, Jaylen Hands hit a long range shot from deep beyond the circle to make it 76-71 with 39.5 left.   Even with those made 3’s, the Ducks still looked to have the game in hand.

After Oregon turned the ball over on UCLA’s press, ( a silly mistake that a veteran team wouldn’t make ), the Bruins made it a one-possession game when Hands was fouled by Duck guard Ehab Amin as he was lofting another shot from distance with 33 seconds left.

Hands managed to convert all three free throws and all of a sudden, it was a 76-74 game.

On the next Oregon possession, Victor Bailey, Jr. came through with two made free throws with 22 seconds remaining, but after a missed Bruin shot and a missed opportunity by the Ducks to grab a defensive rebound, Prince Ali made a deep three from the right corner with just 3.2 to go.

Pritchard hit two clutch free throws for the three-point lead and Altman decided to foul instead of watching UCLA shoot a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Bruins were just 12-25 from the line at that point.

Hands hit the first shot, but intentionally missed the second hoping his team would grab the offensive board to tie the game.

And that’s exactly what happened.

It was almost like it was written in a Hollywood script.

Smith used his length to reach over Paul White to tip the ball in with 0.7 to go.

Worse than that, he was also fouled and the Bruins could have easily won the game in regulation.   But Smith missed the foul shot and the game went into overtime.

Despite the adversity of the last 90 seconds, Oregon was able to rebound and score the first four points of the overtime period to go up 84-80 with 3:02 remaining in the five minute extra period.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, they would go scoreless for the remainder of the game.

UCLA finished the game on a 7-0 run to win its first game in Eugene since 2014.

Louis King led the Ducks with a career-high 22 points and Bailey, Jr. added 20.   White scored 16 and Will Richardson managed 11.

But Oregon was just 8-of-32 from long range and a killer 14-of-24 (58 percent) from the free throw line.

Oregon did score 32 points after forcing 23 Bruin turnovers which made the loss even more of a head scratcher.

Somehow the Ducks will have to shake off the excruciating loss and prepare to play a USC team that also suffered a tough overtime loss in Corvallis against Oregon State.

~ Don Smalley


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