It’s safe to say that the Ducks (3-0) weren’t exactly the same shooters against the Utah Valley Wolverines (2-2) that they were last week against Western Carolina. They missed 37 shots, and finished the night 6-for-21 from deep after starting with a hot 4-for-8.
But the rebounders were there as Oregon compiled 41 rebounds in a more gritty 69-54 game against Utah Valley.
“We beat ’em on the boards, but we should’ve,” head coach Dana Altman said. “I thought we were a step slow all night.”
Mike Moser, a double-double machine at UNLV, came quite close to his first double-double at Oregon with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Altman mentioned Moser as someone he’d like to see increase his rebounds, and Moser came through as a big part of the Ducks’ early success rebounding.
The Ducks took their first 16-point lead on a Waverly Austin dunk with 10 left in the first half, but they allowed the Wolverines to hang around going into the intermission. After giving up a 17-3 run, Oregon’s advantage was only 29-25 as the teams reached the half. The second half started slow as well, but Oregon took that as their cue to drive harder at the basket.
“I know I wasn’t happy, coach wasn’t happy, it’s not good enough,” said guard Jason Calliste. “Just because we’re up doesn’t mean the game’s over.”
After an 8-3 first-half foul battle favoring Utah Valley, Oregon turned the tables in the second half, drawing 8 fouls against 3 of their own with 10 minutes left. Leading the charge as Oregon made its run to put UVU away was Damyean Dotson, who started 0-for-6, but finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds.
The reasons for the limited attacking early was obvious. Utah Valley held back a bit on defense, and didn’t press the issue. This led to 14 first-half threes and just two (both missed) free throws.
“The soft defense, they didn’t extend their defense. We gave into it,” Altman said. “In the first half, we just shot it. The ball movement wasn’t there.”
After 6 more minutes of a single digit advantage, Dotson and defensive specialist Elgin Cook took over. An and-one for Dotson gave the Ducks a 21-point advantage with just under nine minutes left that wouldn’t be challenged.
Also big on the Ducks’ push was the newcomer and box-score stuffer, Joseph Young. Quietly leading the Ducks in scoring after a quality first half, Young finished with 20 points, six of which came as a result of his 3 steals.
Senior Johnathan Loyd started and passed Kamakaze Kid Mike Drummond to take No. 8 on the career UO assists list. With 312 assists in his four years at Oregon, Loyd needs just four to pass Oregon great Terrell Brandon. With three steals, he’s also just two steals away from passing Maarty Leunen on the all-time steals list.
Loyd finished with 12 points, followed by Richard Amardi with 9, Moser with 8, Dotson with 8, and Calliste with 5.
Calliste didn’t leap from the box score, though Altman singled him out as being especially strong on defense in the second half on specific possessions. After the game, he specified the obvious difference between this game and last week.
“We had to get stops tonight. Once you get it going, you think you can outscore a team. It’s not going to happen every night,” he said. “If you want to win, defense wins.”
The Ducks take on the San Francisco Dons on Sunday, 5 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.