Up in Vegas
LAS VEGAS — Oregon guard Dillon Brooks headed to the bench two minutes into the second half due to foul trouble. Most teams would take a step back without their leading scorer.
The deep, talented Ducks flew forward instead.
Tyler Dorsey had 23 points, Dylan Ennis scored on a key three-point play with 22 seconds left, and No. 5 Oregon outlasted California 73-65 Friday night in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
"Everybody has to pick it up and pick up their role," Dorsey said. "That's what we did tonight. We can't control how the refs are going to call it and they called a couple on Dillon early, and everybody had to pick up."
Top-seeded Oregon (29-4) played most of the second half without Brooks due to foul trouble, but increased its lead behind a rash of blocked shots and transition baskets.
Jordan Bell controlled the inside, finishing with 15 rebounds and five of Oregon's seven blocked shots. Dorsey and Ennis (16 points) picked up the scoring slack.
Now the Ducks are headed to the Pac-12 title game for the third straight year, facing No. 7 Arizona tonight.
"We would like to win the conference tournament," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Whatever implications those have on our seeding, I don't know."
California (21-12) lost leading scorer Jabari Bird 64 seconds into the game to a head injury after a hard fall, yet held its own with the Ducks.
The fifth-seeded Bears pulled within two in the final minute, but Ennis scored on a hard drive and hit the free throw to put the Ducks up 70-65.
Grant Mullins led Cal with 23 points and Charlie Moore added 15. Bird was at the hospital being evaluated.
"I thought they did a great job competing, but that's what we're supposed to do," Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. "That's part of our program, so that part should be understood."
Cal took a couple of steps toward earning an at-large NCAA Tournament bid by beating Oregon State and Utah to open the Pac-12 Tournament after closing the regular season with five losses in six games.
Beating a top-five team would have been a huge boost, but it faced long odds coming into the night after losing twice to Oregon during the regular season.
Cal got a tough break barely a minute into Friday's game, when Bird went down hard. He had to be helped to the locker room while holding a towel to the right side of his head.
But the injury and a quiet start by forward Ivan Raab did little to slow the Bears. They attacked the Ducks at both ends, leading for a good portion of the first half behind Moore and Mullins, who combined for 21 points.
"I didn't know what was going on," Raab said of Bird's injury. "We didn't really have time to really think about it. Guys stepped up and they played hard, and it is what it is."
Oregon turned up the defensive pressure late in the half, holding Cal without a field goal over the final 4:38 to build a 36-33 halftime lead.
Oregon opened the second half by getting into quick foul trouble. The Ducks had six in the opening 2 1/2 minutes — five on one possession — and Brooks had to go to the bench after picking up his fourth.
Despite the fouls, Oregon increased its lead, going up 49-37 after a 9-0 run.
Cal clawed back, whittling the lead down to 64-61 with 3 1/2 minutes left behind a little defense of its own, but couldn't finish it off.
California kept battling after Bird went down and has given itself at least shot at getting an NCAA Tournament nod on selection Sunday.
"I think we're an NCAA Tournament team," Martin said. "Now it's for them to decide."
Oregon did not exactly play pretty, but found a way, earning a trip to the Pac-12 title game for third straight season.
Oregon reached 223 blocked shots for the season, breaking the school record for the fourth time in the past five seasons. The Ducks are one short of the Pac-12 record set by Washington last season.
California must await word on its postseason fate.
Oregon will play No. 7 Arizona in tonight's championship game.