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March 9, 2007

Oregon advances to Pac-10 final over Cal

LOS ANGELES -Taj Porter led a balanced offensive attack with 24 points and No. 16 Oregon built a 21-point halftime lead on its way to an 81-63 victory over California in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals Friday night.

The fourth-seeded Ducks (25-7) advanced to Saturday's championship game for the first time since winning the 2003 title. They will play either No. 11 Washington State or Southern California.

Malik Hairston added 22 points, Maarty Leunen 13 and Aaron Brooks 10 for the Ducks, who shot 62 percent from the floor.

Theo Robertson and Ryan Anderson scored 17 points each to lead the eighth-seeded Golden Bears (16-17), who were coming off a 76-69 overtime upset of fourth-ranked UCLA on Thursday.

Ayinde Ubaka was held to seven after scoring a career-high 29 against UCLA.

Friday's game was opposite of last year's semifinal between the teams, won by Cal in double overtime. The teams split their regular-season meetings this year.

The Bears got as close as six points with 7:17 remaining, but Oregon outscored them 22-10 to end the game.

Oregon is surging again after two down seasons in which it won no more than 15 games. It notched its 25th victory for the first time since the 2001-02 team won 26 before losing to Kansas in an NCAA tournament regional final.

The Ducks shot 80 percent from the floor during the opening 7 minutes, crushing the Bears with five 3-pointers on the way to Oregon's largest halftime lead of the season, 44-23. Cal, which set a school record for 3-pointers this season, hit just two in the half.

When the Ducks weren't scoring from the perimeter, they were dominating in the paint, outscoring the Bears 22-12.

Cal turned things around coming out of halftime with a 19-5 run. Robertson had two 3-pointers as the Bears cut their deficit to seven. But Hairston's three-point play and Porter's fastbreak layin off his steal increased Oregon's lead to 12.

The Bears made one more push with an 11-5 run that included Robertson's third 3-pointer and two inside baskets by Anderson to get to 59-53.

Hairston again was the catalyst for Oregon, completing two three-point plays as part of the Ducks' big game-ending spurt.

For more coverage of the Oregon Ducks, check out DuckSportsAuthority.com; for more on the California, check out BearTerritory.net.



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