Despite clawing back from nine points down late in the second half, the Oregon Ducks basketball team(14-6, 2-6) suffered another agonizing defeat, this time to the UCLA Bruins(17-4, 6-2) 70-68.
With eight seconds left and the game tied at 68, F Richard Amardi grabbed a defensive rebound off of a miss by UCLA G Kyle Anderson. However, G Jordan Adams grabbed the ball as well, forcing a jump ball. The possession arrow favored UCLA. Then with five seconds left, after a miss by Adams, F Travis Wear grabbed the rebound and hit a floater. With the UCLA defensive scrambling, UO PG Johnathan Loyd was prepared to speed past the Bruins defense with G Jason Calliste near his side. However, UO head coach Dana Altman called a timeout. On the final possession, Loyd’s shot was blocked and the game was over.
“We were hoping he would make a play for Joe there. I will have to take a look at the play, but that isn’t what we had planned,” Altman said.
Despite the loss, it took a somewhat magical stretch for UO to even be in a position to win the game. After going seven minutes without a field goal, the Ducks went on a 12-0 run highlighted by a steal and reverse lay-up by G Jason Calliste and a thunderous and-one dunk by Young. UO’s nine-point deficit turned into a three-point lead.
However, along with poor execution in the last few minutes, the Ducks just couldn’t coral rebounds. On the seemingly never ending possession that ended in Wear’s game winning shot, UO had three opportunities to gain possession and failed every time.
“That’s just the toughness plays that we need to get,” Young said.
At practice yesterday, Altman emphasized how difficult it would be for UO to match up with Anderson. However, they made it look easy all night, forcing the star UCLA guard into maybe his worst game of the season. UO used full court and half court pressure along with some matchup zones and traps to confuse the methodical guard and force him to speed up. He finished the game with just six points and an astounding nine turnovers. Though he also had 10 assists.
“I thought we did a good job getting under Anderson and being ‘pesty,'” Altman said.
The Ducks can also take solace in the fact that Young broke free from a shooting slump and had one of his most complete performances of the season, putting up 25 points and five steals. Plus, Calliste, who has the highest three-point and free throw percentage in the Pac-12, played exceptionally well, tallying 21 points, three assists and one steal.
“He’s consistent, knows how to play the game on and off the ball and is one of our best defenders. He’s doing pretty good.” Young said regarding Calliste.
Amardi displayed some skill in the post and converted step throughs and fade-aways with relative ease. He finished with 12 points.
However, Mike Moser dug even deeper into his slump against the Bruins. The big man failed to record a single positive statistic. His only accumulated stats were three personal fouls and five turnovers.
“He’s had a really bad stretch here. He had some really bad turnovers today.” “We’ve got to try to help him and he has to get going,” Altman said.
Adams and G Norman Powell picked up the slack from a struggling Anderson and combined to score 36 points. Adams hit a few three’s and was just too big and physical at the guard position for UO’s slender defenders to contain him. Powell, who is similarly big and strong, killed the Ducks in transition and finished a monstrous poster-worthy dunk over Amardi.
Though Adams and Powell played well, the Ducks delivered an impressive defensive performance, holding the second highest scoring team in the Pac-12, behind the Ducks, to over 14 points below their season average.
“I thought we made a step. I thought we did some good things,” Altman said. However he acknowledged: “There were some possessions that weren’t very good,”
“They just made some plays and shot free throws that didn’t allow us to come back,” he added.
Another problem for the Ducks was balance. Along with Moser, fellow starters, G Dominic Artis and F Ben Carter, were held scoreless. In all, only five Ducks scored at least a single point, including a two-point effort from Loyd.
The Ducks will try to end their three game home losing streak against the USC Trojans on Saturday afternoon. The Trojans are currently second to last in the Pac-12.
“We have to practice hard tomorrow, put this game behind us, get ready for USC and go from there,” Young said.