It wasn’t pretty, but the Oregon men’s basketball team (17-8, 5-8 Pac-12) escaped Washington (14-13, 6-8) to win their second consecutive game at home.
In addition to holding Washington’s leading scorer C.J. Wilcox to just nine points (his third sub-10-point performance in the last four games) on 2-of-8 shooting, the Ducks also made history in more than one way tonight. Johnathan Loyd became the winningest player in Oregon history with 90 total wins, while head coach Dana Altman eclipsed the 500-win mark at the Division I level.
“Call him right after I get out of here,” Loyd jokingly said about passing E.J. Singler as the winningest player in Oregon history. “Shout out to ‘E,’ though. That’s my brother, I love him. I’m glad I could take it from him, but he’s been a part of all of mine, so without him, I wouldn’t be saying none of this.”
“I”ve been lucky,” Altman said about reaching 500 wins at the Division I level. “The people I’ve been around at all the schools I’ve worked (at), just been so supportive and you realize that this business — fans can jump on and off the bandwagon — but I’ve worked for really good people, strong people.”
The Ducks won the game on the defensive end. While they had their fair share of runs on offense, their consistent and, at times, energetic defense was what took Washington out of its game plan. Washington may have snapped its five-game streak of scoring less than 70 points tonight, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
“Second half, we picked it up,” Loyd said. “In the second half, I think we did great on defense.”
Offensively, the Ducks boasted one of their best games statistically. Altman thought they could have produced at a higher level, but with three different players scoring over 15 points, there wasn’t too much to complain about. Leading the way were Damyean Dotson and Mike Moser. Dotson finished with 17 points — shooting 5-0f-5 in the second half — while Moser finished with a game-high 20 points on 8-0f-12 shooting.
“Just from me not playing so well at the beginning of the year, just trying to get back on my rhythm and focus on just playing hard,” Dotson said about his recent struggles. “Coach told me ‘defensive rebounding’ and that’s what I tried to do and my offense came. I just showed a lot of emotion when that happened.”
In the first half, the Ducks weren’t as sharp as they appeared. In addition to getting out-rebounded 19-13 in the half, the Ducks also made a handful of mental errors throughout that kept the Huskies within range. Following a late Nigel Williams-Goss three-pointer, Washington held a slim 39-36 lead at the break.
The Ducks came out firing on all cylinders, however, to begin the second half. During their 10-0 run in the first two minutes, three different Ducks recorded a basket and it created a lead that wouldn’t be touched for the rest of the game. Despite the game being tied 60-60 at the 9:11 mark, the Ducks eventually separated themselves with their solid defensive play.
For the Ducks, this was another crucial win amid their must-win situation. With 16 wins and just five games to go, the Ducks likely won’t know whether they will be an NCAA tournament team until the conclusion of the Pac-12 tournament. Having said that, the Ducks may finally be hitting their stride late in the season and are beginning to build momentum that has been missing during conference play.
“For us, we need all of these (remaining games),” Loyd said. “Kind of on the bubble, talking about the NCAA tournament, we had a little slide, so we need all these games and it’s good momentum going into the tournament. If we can stay hot and get hot during the tournament, that benefits us.”
Leading the way for the Huskies were Perris Blackwell and Andrew Andrews. Blackwell finished with a team-high 17 points and five rebounds, while Andrews added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds. As a team, Washington out-rebounded the Ducks 33-21.
Next up for the Ducks is Washington State at home this upcoming Sunday. Game time is set for a 6 p.m. PT start.
Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim