By Annie Ross
The book says that a March Madness underdog that has a seven-point lead with five minutes to go should win.
But that’s why they call it March Madness.
And that’s why the St. Joseph’s Hawks flew home to Philly technically a loser after one of the most successful seasons in their history.
Dillon Brooks carried Oregon with 25 points, Tyler Dorsey hit key shots in the closing minutes and the Ducks advanced to the regional semifinals with a 69-64 win over No. 8 seed Saint Joseph’s in the second round of the West Regional last night in Spokane.
Oregon (29-6) was carrying the banner for the rest of the Pac-12 after the conference posted a collective dud. Five teams were sent home in the first round and Utah was routed by 11th-seeded Gonzaga in the round of 32, leaving the Ducks as the lone conference representative.
And they were tested by the Hawks, rallying from down 58-51 in the final five minutes to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013. Brooks started the rally with a driving three-point play and put Oregon in front for good on a 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining.
Just another big night for Oregon’s do-everything sophomore.
“He wants to be a complete player,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Tonight he made some big shots.”
Saint Joseph’s was on the verge of a stunning upset that seemed unlikely when the Hawks trailed by 10 early in the second half. DeAndre’ Bembry led the Hawks (28-8) with 16 points, but the Atlantic 10 tournament champs saw their postseason run ended in part because of two ugly offensive possessions in the final minute.
First was a shot clock violation with 49 seconds left when the Hawks simply passed too much and failed to get off a shot. That was followed by Bembry losing control of the ball trying to get open for a potential tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining after Oregon’s Casey Benson split a pair of free throws.
Dorsey was fouled in the ensuing dogpile and made two free throws with 9.8 seconds for the final margin.
“I just wish I didn’t turn the ball over,” Bembry said. “I really want to blame myself for that loss, but my teammates don’t want me to say that. I can’t turn the ball over at the end of the game like that.”
While Brooks was the star for the Ducks, Dorsey was in a key supporting role. The freshman scored five straight points late, first following Elgin Cook’s miss with 2:38 left, then hitting an open 3-pointer that gave Oregon a 61-60 lead with 1:53 remaining. Dorsey finished with 14 points and along with Brooks were the only two Oregon players to hit 3-pointers.
Cook added 18 points and Oregon won its 10th straight game.
“It was just there. It was a great swing (pass) and nobody was there. They didn’t pick me up,” Dorsey said.
Lamarr Kimble added 11 points off the bench for SJU after combining to score 11 points in the previous three games. He was the catalyst for a 23-6 run that erased a 10-point Oregon lead and gave the Hawks a 58-51 advantage with 5:30 left after he scored.
But a combination of foul trouble and Oregon’s defense shut down St. Joe’sAaron Brown and Isaiah Miles. Brown finished with 10 points and Miles was held to eight points, the first time all season he failed to score in double figures. Miles had the game-winning 3-pointer in the Hawks’ dramatic first-round win over Cincinnati.
“Look, the last couple of minutes it was a little bit of a moment,” Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “It was just a little bit of a moment.”