EUGENE – In Oregon’s biggest moment of the season, E.J. Singler came up clutch to deliver the Ducks the 2011 College Basketball Invitational Championship in a 71-69 win over Creighton in game three of the CBI Championship Series at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night.
Singler drove to the hoop and banked home a mid-range jumper with two seconds remaining to end the best of three series. The bucket capped a game frenzied back and forth game that featured 14 lead changes and 10 ties.
Joevan Catron closed out his collegiate career with a night to remember, pouring in a career-high 29 points, including 19 in the second half, to lead all scorers and earn CBI MVP honors. The senior scored in double figures in all five CBI games and posted three 20-point efforts and three double-doubles. Singler’s clutch bucket finished a 15-point effort to help the Ducks (21-18) pull out the win. Catron and Tyrone Nared each pulled down a team-high five rebounds.
Creighton took its second lead of the night with an 18-7 that carried over from last in the first half to grab a 36-31 lead 45 seconds into the final frame. An 8-2 spurt by Oregon put Oregon back ahead with 14:15 to go.
From that point forward, both teams took turns holding the lead, with neither team gaining more than four points of separation. Johnathan Loyd put Oregon up by a point following a three-point basket to make it 54-53 with 7:57 to go, but Creighton’s Doug McDermott drilled a trifecta of his own on the ensuing possession to put Creighton back in front.
After a Catron bucket and a stop, Loyd drove to the basket tied the game with a layup. A Blue Jays’ turnover was followed by a Catron bucket to put Oregon up 60-56 with 5:43 to go, the largest lead for either team the rest of the way.
The Ducks stayed in front until a Gregory Echenique dunk with 2:56 remaining made it 65-64 in favor of Creighton. Catron answered by splitting a pair of free throws to tie the score up, but Echenique was true on two attempts from the charity stripe to make it 67-65.
Catron answered with a layup with under a minute to go, but Echenique once again got free for a dunk to make it 69-67 with only 44 seconds to play.
Following a timeout, Oregon called Garrett Sim ’s number and the junior guard responded with his only points of the game by getting to the hole for a layup with 32 seconds left.
The rest of the game is another in a series of memorable moments the new arena has in only half a season. Coming out of a timeout, the Blue Jays’ Antoine Young handled the ball and stepped over the faded half court stripe to hand the ball to the Ducks with 16 to play.
The ball came to Singler on the following possession and the sophomore created just enough separation through traffic and banked a shot home from the lane with two seconds left to send the crowd of 9,335 into a bedlam and give Oregon its 21st and most memorable win of the 2010-11 season.
Oregon shot 48.5 percent from the floor (61.5 percent in the second half) while Creighton countered with nearly identical 48.1 percent shooting. Creighton hit 7-of-20 three-pointers compared to Oregon’s 4-of-19 mark from beyond the arc. The Blue Jays outrebounded the Ducks, 35-25, but the Ducks held a 14-6 advantage in turnovers. Oregon hit 13-of-18 free throws while Creighton nailed 10-of-17 from the charity stripe.
Oregon scored the first seven points and drained six of its first seven shots to open up a 17-9 lead eight minutes in. The Blue Jays stormed back to take a 30-29 lead with 2:01 to play, but a pair of Tyrone Nared free throws put the Ducks back in front 31-30 with 1:50 remaining in the opening stanza, a score that held at halftime.
The Ducks finish the season 21-18 under first year head coach Dana Altman , the 12th 20-win season in Oregon history.
–Joevan Catron (29 points) finishes his collegiate career with 1,149 points and posted the highest point total for any Oregon player this season. He also scored in double figures for the 28th time this season. Catron also made a career-high 11 field goals in the win.
–E.J. Singler (15 points) recorded his 27th double-digit scoring effort of the season.
-With the win, Dana Altman posted the second-highest win total (21) of any first-year UO head coach. Only John Warren (30 wins in 1944-45) posted more in his first year on the sidelines.
-Oregon turned the ball over a season-best six times, including only one miscue in the first half.