by Steve Mims
EUGENE, OREGON — Happy Thanksgiving! Here is a recap of Oregon Athletics that happened last weekend.
Oregon appeared to be on its way to the Pac-12 Championship game before an ugly loss to its rival in the game formerly known as the Civil War on Saturday.
The Ducks built a 31-10 lead over Oregon State late in the third quarter before the Beavers rallied for a 38-34 victory that stunned the visiting Ducks and a national-television audience. OSU scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter without having to throw a pass, including a 6-yard run by Isaiah Newell for the winning scored with 8:11 left to play.
“That’s a hurting locker room right now,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “I feel for the guys right now. Ultimately a lot of moments led to that result. … We played about a half a game or three-quarters of game; didn’t play enough to finish there.”
Lanning again drew criticism for his game management as the Ducks went 0-for-5 on fourth down, including an attempt on fourth-and-one from the UO 29-yard line that resulted in hobbled quarterback Bo Nix being stopped short. Oregon State was set up with a short field for the go-ahead touchdown.
Nix completed 21-of-41 passes for 327 yards and two touchdowns, but an ankle injury limited his to four rushing yards. Chase Cota had his best day as a Duck with nine catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Cota gave the Ducks an early lead on a 44-yard scoring each before OSU went up 10-7 on a run by quarterback Ben Gulbranson. Nix followed with a touchdown pass to Troy Franklin before halftime and then Jordan James scored on a 2-yard run to put the Ducks up 28-10.
Oregon needed a win to reach the Pac-12 title game, but will instead await its bowl destination. The Ducks finished the regular season at 9-3 and tied with Washington and Utah for second place in the conference.
Lanning will need to find a new offensive coordinator after Kenny Dillingham left to be the new head coach at Arizona State.
Oregon went 1-2 at the Phil Knight Invitational while racking up numerous injuries.
Number 20 UConn opened the tournament with a 83-59 win over UO before 12th-ranked Michigan State beat the Ducks 74-70. The Ducks bounced back with a 74-67 win over Villanova in the finale to improve to 3-4 as they prepare to host Washington State in the Pac-12 opener on Thursday.
Guards Brennan Rigsby and Jermaine Couisnard have yet to play all season due to injuries and guard Keeshawn Barthelemy will be out four-to-six weeks after being injured in a loss to Houston last week. N’Faly Dante, Nate Bittle and Tyrone Williams all missed time due to injuries at the PKI.
Senior guard Will Richardson stepped up to lead the Ducks in the tournament by averaging 18.7 points and 6.0 assists per game while 7-foot freshman Kel’el Ware arrived with 16.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
The Ducks went 1-1 at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland.
Oregon opened with a 85-79 loss to No. 8 North Carolina in a game the Ducks led for much of the way. Te-Hina Paopao led the way with 18 points and four rebounds while freshman Grace VanSlooten added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Oregon opened the week with a 66-54 win over Southern Utah at Matthew Knight Arena. Paopao once again led the way with 17 points while VanSlooten and Chance Gray had 12 points apiece.
The 19th-ranked Ducks return home to face Portland on Saturday.
Oregon wrapped up the regular season with a pair of three-game victories over California and Oregon State.
Brooke Nuneviller had 13 kills and three aces while Hannah Pukis had 34 assists and 10 digs as Oregon won at Cal, 25-16, 25-12, 25-17. The Ducks returned home to beat Oregon State 25-13, 25-14, 25-9 as Nuneviller and Mimi Colyer each had 11 kills.
The Ducks are 23-5, including a 17-3 mark in the Pac-12 that goes down as the best in school history. The Ducks have won 13 straight and are 12-0 at home as they prepare to host NCAA Tournament games this weekend.
Oregon will face Loyola Marymount in the opening round on Friday at 7 p.m. with the winner facing either Arkansas or Utah State on Saturday.
Steve Mims has spent 25 years as a sportswriter, including 21 years at The Register-Guard. He covered University of Oregon athletics from 2013-2020. He works in Eugene as a registered representative and insurance agent at PBC Insurance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.