Sometimes even a 16-point win leaves a team with a foul taste in its mouth. The Oregon men’s basketball team beat the Point Loma Sea Lions on Saturday by a comfortable score of 68-52, but without big performances from guard Joseph Young and center Waverly Austin, the Ducks might have lost to a team that went 5-21 in the Pacific West Conference last season.
“We played terrible,” senior guard Johnathan Loyd said after the game. “Defense wasn’t there, we didn’t execute on offense, we didn’t focus on the boards like he (head coach Dana Altman) wanted us to. All in all, that wasn’t a good showing for us.”
The first half was especially bad for the Ducks, as they trailed 37-35 and easily could have been down by more. Point Loma shot 56 percent from the field, compared to 35.3 percent by the Ducks. While the offense didn’t deserve a gold star that half, the Ducks said their biggest issue was their sloppy, lackadaisical play on defense.
“Our defense didn’t have much communication, much pop to it,” Altman said of their first-half effort. “We just weren’t ready to play.”
Oregon was able to force eight turnovers while giving the ball away just four times in the half, but they couldn’t take advantage of those chances — Point Loma outscored the Ducks 4-3 in points off turnovers. The Ducks also grabbed 1o offensive rebounds and took 11 more shots than Point Loma that half, but so many of their chances came up empty.
One of the lone bright spots for the Ducks in the first half was Young. The redshirt junior transfer from Houston was all over the court that half, scoring 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, dishing out one assist, recording one steal and two rebounds. No other Duck scored more than five points in the first 20 minutes.
“I was just knocking down the shots that were open,” Young said.
The Ducks had plenty of positive takeaways from the first half, leading the rebound battle (on both ends) and turning the ball over half as many times as the Sea Lions. The poor shooting and sporadic defense directly contributed to their poor first half.
The second half instantly looked different. Sophomore forward Elgin Cook made a powerful block on the Sea Lions’ first possession then converted a layup on the offensive end just seconds later. Austin followed Cook’s lead, blocking a shot on the next play. On the Ducks’ next possession, Austin fought for an offensive rebound and converted the putback.
These four plays set the tone for the rest of the half.
“Our talking, defensively, did pick up in the second half,” Altman said. “I think that’s why we had a much better effort.”
After a solid first half in just eight minutes of playing time, Austin exploded in several areas during the second half. He scored 16 total points on 7-of-9 shooting, pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked two shots. Most of those points (12) and rebounds (9) came in the second half, too.
“Wave did great,” Loyd said. “I’ll take that from him every game. If he can do that, we’re going to be good inside.”
The Ducks did go through a lull on offense around the from about 14 to eight minutes left in the game, but their defense demolished the Sea Lions all half. The Ducks held Point Loma to 15 second-half points on 17.2 percent shooting, dropping their shooting percentage to 35.2 overall (the Ducks narrowly upped their percentage, finishing at 36.5 percent.)
Despite the second-half rampage, the Ducks were far from happy. With Georgetown coming up this coming Friday in South Korea, the Ducks know they can’t afford an effort like this and expect to win.
“We’ve got a big week of practice ahead of us,” Altman said.
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415