Joevan Catron scored 24 points to lead the Oregon Ducks to a victory over the visiting Boise State Broncos in a College Basketball Invitational (CBI) semifinal contest Wednesday night. Sophomore forward E.J. Singler added 18 points, and Malcolm Armstead chipped in 10 points, as the Ducks held off a furious second half rally by the Broncos to extend their season and earn a spot in the best-of-three CBI championship series.
The Ducks opened the second half with a 12-3 run, increasing a 38-27 halftime lead to a seemingly safe 50-30 margin when Jonathan Lloyd hit a free throw at the 15:09 mark of the second half. The Broncos rallied, however, mounting a methodical charge that saw them close the 20-point deficit to a two-possession game with a bit more than a minute remaining in the game. Catron responded for the Ducks, hitting several key free throws, and scoring 14 of his team’s last 16 points to help Oregon maintain its lead and overcome the Boise State rally. The senior forward was just 6-of-15 from the floor, but made 12-of-14 free throws.
That the game was ever close in the second half is a testament to the Broncos’ resolve and determination, as the Ducks were on fire from the field in the first half. Oregon made 50 percent of its shots from the floor (12-of-26), including a tidy 8-of-16 performance from three-point range.
With the lead 14-13 at the 13:50 mark of the first half, the Ducks drilled six three-pointers, scoring 18 of their next 24 points from three-point range, to take a 38-27 halftime lead. Oregon was unable to continue the torrid three-point shooting in the second half, which gave an experienced Boise State team the opportunity it needed to get back in the game.
Senior forward Paul Noonan started the comeback by sinking two free throws to make the score 50-32 with 14:41 remaining in the game. Tre Nicholas jump-started the comeback by making a three-pointer and hitting a jumper, as the Broncos steadily gained on the Ducks, closing the gap to 66-59 at the 4:13 mark. Senior guard La’Shard Anderson made free throws to get the Broncos within six points with 1:19 left to play; at which point Oregon’s Joevan Catron took over, scoring on a layup and an emphatic dunk to finish off Boise State.
The Broncos end the season with a 22-13 record. Robert Arnold led Boise State with 24 points. Nichols added 16 points, and Anderson chipped in 10 points in a losing effort.
Oregon improved to 19-17 in Coach Dana Altman’s first season at the helm. The victory sets up a compelling CBI Championship series clash with a Creighton team that he coached for 16 years and led to the NCAA Tournament seven times. The CBI Championship series begins on Monday March 28. The first game will be played at the Qwest Center in Omaha with game two taking place at Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena on Wednesday night. Game three, if necessary, will also be played at Matthew Knight Arena.