The Northern Illinois Big 12 scoring system wasted no time biting the Dukes in an 8-6 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday at Plum Hollow Lanes.
Dixon won the total pinfall 3,391-3,366, but the Pirates took the last two games to claim eight of the 14 conference points. Each game is worth four points, total pinfall two.
Ryan Dixon and Joel Spangler came out swinging. Their opening games of 279 and 276 highlighted their 633 and 630 series, respectively, in a 1,262-1,121 drubbing to open the match.
But Ottawa's Nick Worley led all bowlers with a 727, and the Pirates took Game 2 1,195-1,124 and Game 3 1,050-1,005.
Oregon 3,680, Mendota 3,676: With a 1,245-1,221 pinfall edge in Game 3, the Hawks nipped the Trojans in both teams' season opener at Mendota Elks Club.
Senior Justin Provo led five Oregon bowlers who eclipsed 600 series with a 646, which included the best game of the night, a 254. Mendota's Cody Phalen led all bowlers with a steady 726.