Pinder contribution key from bench that's adding little
Hidden on the bench against Oregon State, senior Keanu Pinder was a forgotten man. Spot minutes throughout the season with little significance wouldn’t tell you otherwise. But with Arizona in a heated battle with Oregon, one that would see a combined 51 fouls called Saturday, the opportunity to make an impact presented itself and lead to a 90-83 win over the Ducks in McKale.
“Dusan got in foul trouble and so did Deandre and we really needed someone to step up,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “…It’s not easy for an older player to not get an opportunity on Thursday night and then at noon on Saturday rise to the challenge like he did.”
With a bench that has contributed very little in terms of point production, Pinder was a difference maker in more ways than putting the ball in the basket, especially on the defensive end.
On two separate occasions, the Australian was able to block a shot at a key moment of the game. One of those two blocks led to a fast break, one which he was on the finishing end of, dunking on Oregon 6’9 forward Paul White.
It was one moment, but enough to earn Pinder more minutes in the second half when starting center Dusan Ristic picked up his fourth foul. Able to match up against Oregon’s quicker forwards compared to Ristic, Pinder was an obstacle the Ducks couldn’t get around. Forced to rely on outside shots that ultimately wouldn’t fall.
“I made a couple good plays in a row, which the team fed off and the team just ran with it,” Pinder said. “You just got to stay ready, you never know when you are going to get the opportunity. I just got the opportunity and ran with it.”
The icing on the cake for Pinder was down the stretch as Oregon had to result to fouling to stay in the game. Sinking four free throws in the games final moments cemented Pinder’s contribution to a Wildcats team still trying to find its way. As a senior, his leadership Saturday in McKale is perhaps what has been missing on occasion.
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