Oregon climbs out of 18-point hole, downs Cal

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Jermaine Couisnard scored 18 points to help Oregon come back from an 18-point, first-half deficit and beat California 80-73 on Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.

Jadrian Tracey added 14 points and Jackson Shelstad scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half for Oregon (13-3, 5-0 Pac-12), which improved to 5-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2016-17 season, when the Ducks eventually went to the Final Four.

Cal (6-11, 2-4) got 20 points from Jaylon Tyson, who entered Saturday as the Pac-12’s leading scorer.

The Golden Bears saw their lead balloon to 41-23 in the first half after shooting 63.2 percent from the floor as a team through the game’s first 13 minutes. Of its first 19 shots, Cal made 12, including four 3-pointers, and led 32-19 at the 7:31 mark.

Oregon struggled to hit open shots until the final few minutes of the first half. A highlight for the Ducks was the return of center N’Faly Dante from a knee injury.

Dante was named to the Pac-12 preseason all-conference first team and was playing in just his second game of the season on Saturday.

Dante checked in at the 14:36 mark of the first half and dunked 30 seconds later, tying the game at 12. But Cal got hot, playing at a quick pace while creating offense early in the shot clock.

Back-to-back close-range shots from Fardaws Aimaq gave the Golden Bears their 41-23 lead with 3:59 to play in the first. Aimaq had 14 of his 18 points before intermission.

The Ducks fought back loudly, cutting the lead to four, 43-39, with a 16-2 run to end the first half. Couisnard hit three 3-pointers over the final 2:57 of the frame.

The second half was tight, with Oregon going ahead 54-51 on Kario Oquendo’s 3 at the 11:34 mark. Thirty-eight seconds later, Oquendo threw down a one-handed dunk over Aimaq, bringing the home crowd to its feet.

The slam turned out to be a pivotal play, as the Ducks would go up by as many as nine and hold off the Golden Bears, who made it a two-point game down the stretch and had chances to draw even but never could.

Keeshawn Barthelemy’s floater with 1:06 to play gave the Ducks a 78-69 lead, effectively ending Cal’s chance of putting together a comeback.