ROCK FALLS – Good shooting will beat good defense almost every time. Oregon used this formula to create a large lead early en route to a 66-45 Big Northern West victory over Rock Falls on Friday at Tabor Gym.
The Hawks (5-19, 1-9 BNC West) shot 7-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half alone, as sophomore Trevor Otten started his team on the right note, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the first half.
Then, what little shooting slack there was, senior Matt Murray picked it up by shooting 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Oregon shot a staggering 70 percent from downtown for the game.
"We shot really well," Murray said. "It was probably our best percentage of the year so far, which was a really big help in the game."
Rock Falls (5-17, 1-8 BNC West) struggled to get anything going right off the bat on Senior Night. Oregon jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead a mere 2˝ minutes into the game.
"They made shots," Rocket coach Brad Bickett said. "When you make shots, things happen. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more passion defensively. I would have liked to see us a little bit more cranked up on Senior Night, but credit to them."
Murray hit a pair of his 3s with less than 2 minutes to go until halftime, which helped Oregon maintain a 37-21 lead at the break.
The third quarter belonged to Rock Falls senior Austin Donoho, as he flourished both offensively and defensively for the Rockets.
He went 5-for-6 from the field, which included three 3s, tallying 15 points in the quarter alone, highlighted by a step-back 3. As he faked the drive in, his defender lost balance, allowing Donoho to knock down an off-balance 21-footer. He finished with 21 points, five rebounds and four steals.
His team rallied behind him, as the Rockets showed a hop in their step for the first time of the night.
"I have no idea what happened," Bickett said. "The guys need to figure it out and do it for 32 minutes. We are yet to do it this year. We need to figure it out. We have 2 more weeks and then a postseason to do it. We'll see if we can't get that going next week."
Despite the strong effort in the third by the Rockets, the Hawks maintained the lead with steady shooting. Heading into the fourth, Oregon held a 53-43 lead after a Rock Falls missed shot turned into a basket for the Hawks at the buzzer.
"We rotated well in our zone, and boxed out well out of it," Oregon coach Quinn Virgil said. "There was a stretch in the third quarter where they put a nice run on us. They were getting out on us because of how well we shot, and we had a couple posts roll off of slips that led to easy buckets."
That zone defense stifled the Rocket offensive power in the final quarter, holding them to only one field goal. The Hawks themselves shot well from the field again, going 6-for-7 to wrap up the game. Overall, they finished shooting 55 percent from the field on the night.
"It was pretty exciting," Murray said. "We knew they were going to be pumped up, and that we would need to crush their morale. We did just that.
"It's a huge boost. We have been on quite the losing streak, and to finally get this win feels great."
Star of the Game: Austin Donoho, Rock Falls, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals.
Key Performers: Matt Murray, Oregon, 15 points, 4-5 3-pointers. Trevor Otten, Oregon, 11 points, 5 rebounds.