The Oregon men’s basketball (13-4, 1-4 Pac-12) team all agreed it was time for a change on the defensive end following their loss to Stanford last week. And for the most part, it came into fruition against their in-state rival Beavers (10-7, 2-3) at Gill Coliseum tonight. But in combination with giving up seven three-pointers and uncontested put backs in crucial situations, the Ducks didn’t give themselves much of a chance to win. The mental state of the Ducks is at an all-time low at the moment and no one quite knows what to do at this point except move forward.
The Ducks have now dropped four straight Pac-12 games and now rank 10th in the conference with a 1-4 record following their 80-72 loss to the Beavers. They entered Pac-12 play with a perfect 13-0 record.
“Everybody is really down,” Dana Altman said. “We’ve really struggled these past two weeks and have been tough on the guys. So there was no reason to pile on (post game frustrations).”
The formula for failure hasn’t changed for the Ducks during their now four-game losing streak. Defense and rebounding have been recurring problems throughout the season and they have continually led to their demise since beginning conference play. The lack of a big man has been a legitimate concern for the Ducks all season, but their attention to detail on the defensive end has been the elephant in the room that simply hasn’t gone away.
“It hurts,” Johnathan Loyd said after the game. “Trying to move on. We’re in a tough spot right now, just going to try to get a win and that’s all we can do. We’re not doing the little things: we’re not rebounding the ball, not paying attention to tendencies and letting people do what they want to do, so it’s just some things we got to fix.”
Defense wasn’t necessarily the fault for tonight’s loss and the Ducks appeared to make a subtle improvement in their weakest area. It was the offense that let down this game and it came in the lone game where their defense actually gave them a chance to win the game.
“We made a couple (good stops), but then, there we go, we had our lapses again,” Loyd said. “We still play defense in spurts. We don’t play full 40 minutes yet, we don’t play hard the whole time, so it’s just some of the stuff we got to get by.”
Heading into the game, the Ducks ranked second in the nation in points per game. Tonight, they tied their conference season-low in points scored with 70 and finished the game shooting 37.9 percent.
“We didn’t shoot it well at all,” Loyd said. “We got to work on penetrating, kicking, we only had six assists tonight, so offensively, we didn’t play very well. We didn’t play well at all, period.”
Like their previous three games, the Ducks fell behind early and played catch-up for the remainder of the game. In addition to the 5-7 shooting from behind the arc, the Beavers out rebounded the Ducks 25-16 in the first half. Couple that with the Ducks shooting 32.3 percent from the floor and the Ducks found themselves trailing 37-30 at the break following a mini run to end the half. Joseph Young was also held to just two points on 1-5 shooting in the first half.
“Offensively the first half, we had a bunch of guys just trying to do it on their own,” Altman said. “They (Beavers) had a lot of confidence in their offense, our ball movement was not very good, took a lot of bad shots and got ourselves down.”
In the second half, the Ducks made a conscious effort to slow down the Beaver offense and they managed to do it in spurts. Aside from some of the uncontested back door layups they allowed down the stretch, the Ducks did see the Beaver’s shooting percentage drizzle down to 45.1 by the end of the game. Had the Ducks figured out a way to close a manageable single digit gap in the closing minutes of the game, they might have just walked out of the building with their second win in Pac-12 play.
“I thought in the second half we played better,” Altman said. “Our ball movement still wasn’t the same and we just didn’t shoot it well. Joe (Young) goes 2-9, Dotson didn’t shoot it well, Mike didn’t shoot it well, so guys that have produced. I think a little bit of that was pressure; trying to get it going and so I told them after the game, (we) can’t change the last two weeks, really had a bad two weeks, we’ve lost four games, but we’re a better basketball team, I truly believe that.”
With 1:51 to go, the Ducks were trailing 71-66 and had a chance to cut it to three following a Damyean Dotson steal, but it was quickly halted by a turnover as he lost his footing on the break. This was the closest the Ducks would get for the rest of the game.
Leading the way for the Ducks were Jason Calliste and Richard Amardi. Calliste finished with a team-high 17 points and three steals, while Amardi finished with 13 points and six rebounds. The two helped ease the dismal performances from Mike Moser and Joseph Young, who combined for just 13 points on 5-24 shooting.Also helping the Ducks was Ben Carter who in addition to contributing 11 points and two rebounds, helped the Ducks stay in the game on both ends of the floor during his productive 16 minutes.
For the Beavers it were Roberto Nelson (leading scorer) and Eric Moreland leading the way. Nelson finished with a game-high 22 points and four rebounds, while Moreland finished with the lone double-double of the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Angus Brandt was also key for the Beavers tonight as he added 14 points and five rebounds of his own. Early in the second half, Brandt recorded eight points in four minutes and helped the Beavers maintain their lead.
The Ducks will now take a couple of days off before traveling to Pullman, Wash. to take on a Washington State team that is coming off a loss to California. This will be the Ducks second of three road games before they head back home for their matchup against No. 25 UCLA. Game time is set for a 7 p.m. PST start at the Wallis Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.
“Each loss gets tougher and tougher to get out of this hole we’re digging,” Loyd said. “This is four in a row, so we’re just trying to put it behind us and just try and keep moving forward. We’re not going to waste any energy on what has happened, we’re just going to keep putting all our energy on going forward and just trying to get this win so we can get out of this hole.”
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim