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Porter rallies Oregon to crucial victory

Feb 23, 2007 - 8:17 AM EUGENE, Oregon (Ticker) -- Freshman Tajuan Porter gave Oregon's tournament hoops a big boost.

Porter scored 21 points and was huge down the stretch as the 24th-ranked Ducks posted a 64-59 victory over No. 11 Washington State in a Pac-10 Conference matchup.

The teams entered the game heading in opposite directions, the Cougars on a five-game winning streak and the Ducks needing to end their three-game slide.

"This was a big win after we have lost so many games recently," Porter said. "We want to go to the NCAA Tournament."

Oregon (21-7, 9-7 Pac-10) looked like a dominant team just three weeks ago but needed to start winning again if it hoped to stay off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Porter's back-to-back 3-pointers gave Oregon a 56-55 lead with 3:35 to play. Daven Harmeling responded with a dunk to put Washington State back on top, but Porter gave the Ducks the lead for good with a pair of free throws with 2:59 to go.

"There is always room for somebody to step up on offense or defense," Porter said. "I just got confidence, got open and my teammates got me the ball."

"As a freshman, what he has accomplished is amazing," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "He has played well throughout the season, but the last three or four games he has taken his game to another level. He made some incredible shots tonight."

Harmeling scored 15 points for the Cougars (22-5, 11-4 Pac-10), who were looking to avenge their last loss, a 77-74 home setback to the Ducks on January 27.

Oregon has now won 13 straight and 21 of the last 22 against Washington State, which last won in Eugene in 1995.

The Cougars used a 17-0 run to take a 19-8 lead early on and they led by as many as 14 in the first half. The Ducks got a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Maarty Luenen to cut the deficit to 30-25 at the break.

"I thought the end of the first half really hurt us," Bennett said. "We should have been up eight at worst. We just had some breakdowns defensively."

Porter was 6-of-9 from the field and made four 3-pointers. He is five 3-pointers away from breaking the Pac-10 freshman record of 82 set by UCLA's Jason Kapono in 2000.

"We had a hard time handling Porter, obviously," Bennett said. "He hit some long bombs."