Another year, another pair of losses to Cal.
Oregon had their chances to win but couldn’t score late, allowing California’s Justin Cobbs to sink a game winner with 0.7 seconds left, giving the team their 11th-straight win over the Ducks. It was the last chance for E.J. Singler to beat the Golden Bears (unless the both pair up in the Pac-12 Tournament).
“I haven’t won against them my whole time at Oregon,” Singler said. “I want them (in the Pac-12 Tournament) really bad.”
From the start, Oregon shot the ball abysmally. The Ducks missed their first seven shots from the field, but the Bears were shooting the ball almost as badly and could only open up a 6-0 lead before the Ducks started hitting shots.
With both teams shooting under 30 percent in the first half, Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi was pulling down rebounds left and right, finishing with 14 boards in the first half alone. The senior from Iran came away at the end of the night with 18 rebounds and 11 points — including a pair of dunks — to pick up his seventh double-double of the year and the 52nd of his career.
“Last game against California, I told the coaches I let them down,” Kazemi said. “I came today all in, and it really hurts right now sitting here and not wining this game, but it is what it is. I just have to bring that effort and energy every night, not just one game.”
Despite the poor shooting performance, Oregon would lead by five points at halftime.
In the second half, however, the Ducks’ shooting woes would continue while the Bears found their stroke. Oregon hit just seven field goals in the second half, shooting just 25.9 percent — an even lower clip than their first-half output. Cal, meanwhile, caught fire in the second half, shooting 12-for-21 for 57.1 percent.
The second half also took on a more physical tone, highlighted by Kazemi taking an elbow to the nose while defending Tyrone Wallace. Wallace was given a flagrant foul on the play, which had temporarily knocked Kazemi out of the game. Ben Carter stepped in for the free throws and missed both.
“He was our best free-throw shooter percentage-wise on the bench,” Altman said. “I thought he’d go up there and knock them down.”
Oregon shot just 12 of 20 from the free throw line as a team. Even Singler and Kazemi, both normally strong at the line, each missed a pair of free throws.
Despite all that, Oregon held the lead for most of the game. Cal never led by more than two points in the second half, but Oregon was never able to pull away. The Ducks’ last field goal came with 2:16 left in the game, as Johnathan Loyd and Damyean Dotson missed later potential go-ahead shots in the final minute and a half.
“Eventually you just gotta get some shots,” Altman said. “We just didn’t do that.”