After loss of star Boucher, Oregon shows it has NCAA depth
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — With star big man Chris Boucher cheering in a bulky knee brace from the sidelines, Tyler Dorsey scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures, and No. 3 seed Oregon beat 14th-seeded Iona 93-77 Friday in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region.
The Ducks (30-5) showed they have depth and sheer athleticism to make a special March run, just as coach Dana Altman hoped this week when he challenged role players to make larger contributions in shot-blocker Boucher's absence.
Iona star Jordan Washington gave his team a huge scare when he went down hard under Oregon's basket, screaming in pain and grabbing his lower left leg with 1:12 to go before halftime. But the senior forward returned to start the second half and finished with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting and 11 rebounds in his final college game for the Gaels (22-13).
Boucher was relegated to a cheerleading role for the Ducks, who shared the Pac-12 regular-season crown with Arizona then lost by three points to the Wildcats in the conference tournament final after Boucher tore his left ACL in the semifinals.
Oregon, which had its 27-point lead trimmed to 13 in the second half before holding on, shot 63.6 percent with only three turnovers in the first half to take control, began the second half with a 10-1 burst and went 55.6 percent from the floor overall.
Boucher shimmied his shoulders during a timeout and carefully stood from his chair to pump his fist and root for his guys, hardly the kind of finish he envisioned for his final collegiate season.
For Iona, Washington limped off with help just before halftime at first-year Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA Sacramento Kings.
He brought energy on both ends to lead the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs, driving for a pretty spin move with 11:46 left in the first half then taking a charge from Dorsey moments later. He then drew another one.
Washington scored 14 of his team's initial 18 points, but Oregon led 55-37 at halftime.
Sam Cassell Jr., son of the former NBA star, scored 16 points in his final collegiate game. He pumped his arms and kicked out a leg when Oregon called timeout after Iona pulled to 29-26 with 8:35 to play in the first half on consecutive 3s by Cassell and E.J. Crawford.
Jordan Bell delivered back-to-back layins as the Ducks answered, then his putback with 4:27 left in the half extended Oregon's lead to 41-33.
Iona: Iona shot just 3 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half before hitting seven second-half 3s. ... The Gaels were outrebounded 40-27. ... They faced Oregon for the first time.
Oregon: The Ducks have won at least one NCAA game in five straight years. ... In the first half, Bell became the school's career NCAA Tournament rebounding leader, passing former teammate Elgin Cook's 49. ... Brooks moved into fourth place on the Ducks' single-season scoring list.
Oregon advances to play Sunday against the winner of Friday's second game between sixth-seeded Creighton (25-9) and No. 11 Rhode Island (24-9).