Monday, March 19, 2007

#3 Oregon 75, #11 Winthrop 61

Solid guard play by senior Aaron Brooks and freshman Tajuan Porter propelled the Ducks past the Winthrop Eagles. The third-seeded Ducks (28-7), who have won more games than any Oregon team since the 1944-45 squad won 30, will play seventh-seeded UNLV in the semifinals of the Midwest Regional in St. Louis.

Diminutive but destructive Tajuan Porter, the shortest man on the floor at 5-foot-6, broke open a close game by making his first four shots of the second half Sunday, all from long range. That spurt, Aaron Brooks' 22 points and a smothering defense led Oregon over the frazzled Eagles 75-61 and eliminated the last remaining double-digit seed from the tournament. The 11th-seeded Eagles (29-5), who upset Notre Dame in the first round, lost for the first time in 20 games to end their most successful tournament in seven tries.

Winthrop trailed by only 33-29 at halftime, after reserve DeAndre Adams stole the ball from Porter and made a runner in the lane just before the half ended. That was Winthrop's only field goal over the last 5½ minutes, but it restored the Eagles' hopes. Then Porter ended them. His third consecutive 3-pointer of the second half put the Ducks up 48-35 just 4½ minutes into the second half.

UNLV beware: This season, entering Sunday, Porter had shot better from 3-point range (a team-leading 43) than from inside the arc (41 percent). When Brooks made yet two more 3s -- to go 5-for-7 from deep -- Oregon led 57-42 with nine minutes left -- and Winthrop's dream was dead.

Go Ducks!

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