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Oregon Ducks win the final PAC-12 Tournament

The University of Oregon Hoisting the Championship Trophy

LAS VEGAS – The final PAC-12 Championship tournament took place over the weekend at the T-Mobile Arena.

The University of Oregon was crowned champion, beating two teams ranked higher than them in the tournament and punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament that begins later this week. 

Oregon started their tournament on Thursday against a UCLA team that had a year to forget. The Bruins were able to give Oregon a run for their money however keeping it close throughout and having a chance to win it in the end. Dylan Andrews of UCLA was not able to hit the game tying bucket and Oregon was able to sneak by to set up a match against the top ranked team of the tournament, the University of Arizona.

When asked what was going to be needed to pull off the upset Oregon Coach Dana Altman had this to say : “ Well, they're good inside, and they're big. And Dante is going to have to play well, but he always has. You look at his game in/game out, he hasn't had many duds. And the rest of the guys gotta step up. I'm not talking about just offensively, I'm talking about on the boards. I'm talking about defensively. We've got to have some of our guys step up, be a little better.”

The next day against Arizona, Oregon got off to a shaky start and was even down 14 points until they started turning it around with 6 minutes left in the first half. They were able to storm back and take the lead late due to their defense shutting down Arizona, and freshman Jackson Shelstad making critical shots.

Shelstad had this to say about how he felt after getting those important points, “ I just tried not to lose my confidence. First half, I was missing a couple open looks. My teammates and my coaches do a good job instilling confidence in me, just take good ones and they're eventually going to drop. A couple of them were big down the stretch. I tried not to lose my confidence there.” 

With Oregon beating Arizona and the University of Colorado pulling off their own upset against the second ranked Washington State Cougars, in the tournament, the stage was set for the last PAC-12 Tournament Championship game.

The game started a lot like the last game for Oregon, getting behind by nine points before eventually coming back to take a three point lead going into halftime. The championship stayed neck and neck but late heroics by Oregon center N’Faly Dante including a block that he kept in bounds were enough to secure the win and championship for the Ducks. 

Here’s what Dana Altman had to say about how important Dante was in that game: “ Dante, 12-for-12. Last two games against Colorado he went 12-for-12 and 10-for-10. Probably ought to get him the ball more. You look at the plus/minus, he got in that foul trouble, but when he was on the floor we were plus-21. He's a presence defensively and they have to pay so much attention to him.” 

N'Faly Dante holding his piece of the net he cut off.

Oregon now looks ahead to Thursday when they will play the University of South Carolina in the opening round of the National Tournament. 

N’Faly Dante was named the 2024 PAC-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

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