It was a game that seemed like it wouldn't end. Both sides had numerous opportunities to take control, but neither could for more than 50 minutes of game action. That is, until junior center John Bohannon drained a near NBA range three point jumper with the shot clock winding down in the third overtime.
Early on in the contest, the two teams traded blows, but it was the Miners who were able to jump ahead first, owning a lead of as many as 9, before the gap narrowed to 7 at the break. The Miners continued their strong play early in the second half, pushing the lead back to 9, but the Ducks were far from done.
Oregon quickly used a 13-2 run that turned the 9 point deficit into a 2 point lead with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the ball game. The Ducks held onto that lead until three Konner Tucker free throws put the Miners back on top at 55-53 with 4:34 to play.
The two teams traded scores for the next four minutes, but near the end of regulation, it was the Miners who had an opportunity to take control of the contest once and for all. With only 3 seconds left, Bohannon stepped to the line for two shots. After missing the first, the junior drained the second, setting up the first of a few overtimes to come.
In the first extra frame, neither team was able to get a lead larger than 2. After a back and forth battle, once again, the Miners had a chance to close the contest out. With 24 seconds on the clock, and a tie ball game, the Miners were content to take the last shot, but wound up settling for a contested three, and it was on to double overtime.
The second overtime played out much out like the first. The Ducks took an early 4 point advantage, but the Miners quickly answered, and from there no one was able to get ahead by more than a basket. This time, it was the Ducks who had the opportunity for the final shot, but much like the Miners, they settled for a contested three, sending the game to a third extra frame.
In the third overtime, the Miners quickly jumped out to a four point lead and never looked back. An Oregon three cut the lead back to one, but a couple plays later, Bohannon knocked down that huge momentum grabbing three, once and for all securing the lead for the Miners. Konner Tucker added a contested three of his own, and a couple clutch free throws, and the Miners walked away with the 91-84 victory.
Coach Tim Floyd:
"It was a really exciting game from a fan's standpoint. The fans have been awesome all year...We're playing these quality teams, and the idea is you're either going to get better or you're going to wilt and learn how to lose. We didn't do that tonight."
The Miners certainly did not wilt on Wednesday night, nor did they on Monday. Even though they struggled on the road early on in the season, they continue to stand tall against some tough opponents here on their home floor. Sooner or later, that solid play would translate into a win. It nearly did Monday night, and it certainly did tonight.
Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn was the clear leader of this team tonight, going 10-17 from the floor and finishing with a game high 23 points and 6 rebounds in 54 minutes of action. John Bohannon's performance was just as big, as he put up his second double-double in three tries, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Cedrick Lang, as usual, also played an important role, going for 14 points and 5 rebounds in 41 minutes of play, and senior guards Jacques Streeter and Konner Tucker each chipped in with 12 points apiece. Streeter also had 8 assists, while Tucker had 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Oregon was led by freshman guard Damyean Dotson who finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Senior forward Carlos Emory finished with 18 and 6 rebounds, freshman guard Dominic Artis chipped in with 15 points and 6 assists, and former Rice Owl Arsalan Kazemi finished up with 13 points and 16 boards.
While the 84 points don't exactly show it, the Miners once again put together a signature Tim Floyd performance, holding the Ducks to only 62 points in regulation, and less that 40% shooting for the game. Coming in, Oregon averaged better than 77 points a game, and was shooting better than 47% from the field.
More than just the defense though, the Miners were able compete on the boards with a team that ranks in the top 50 nationally with about 40 rebounds a game. Considering the three overtimes, the Ducks still hauled in 49 rebounds, but the Miners were right there, bringing down 44 of their own.
This young team continues to mature before our eyes, and while many might have folded after this heartbreaking loss just two nights ago, this team got back to work and did what it took to knock off a very solid Oregon squad. Expect them to continue to improve from here.
Up next, the Miners will take part in the annual Sun Bowl Invitational tournament, right here in El Paso, opening up on Saturday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 7:00 p.m. MT. Depending on the outcome of that game, the Miners will either meet Central Michigan or Nebraska in the consolation or championship game on Sunday.