After falling to an elite UConn team, the Ducks faced yet another ranked opponent in the UCLA Bruins to open conference play Friday night. UCLA pounded the offensive glass and forced 25 Oregon turnovers en route to defeating the Ducks 89-80. UCLA had five players in double figures, lead by Atonye Nyingifa who had 18. Ariel Thomas had 20 and Jillian Alleyne contributed 19 points and 12 rebounds to record her fifth double double this season. Throughout the game it seemed as though UCLA was just a step quicker than the Ducks which lead to a lot of the hustle statistics falling into UCLA's favor.
Oregon started this game competitive at least in the first ten minutes before the Bruins broke away on a 27-3 run. The lead ballooned to as much as 26 with under 2 minutes remaining before the Ducks got on a run of their own to close the gap to 18 at the break. The Ducks doomed themselves early, committing 16 turnovers in the first half which lead to 21 Bruin points. They also gave up 10 offensive boards which lead to another 11 points for the visitors. The Bruins, while not typically a great shooting team from beyond the arc managed to go 5-9 in the first from deep which helped aid them to their big lead.
"I think on the plus side, our team played much better in the second half," stated Coach Westhead "but, it's hard to give up that kind of a lead and then turn it into a victory." Oregon came out in that second half and refused to roll over for a talented Bruins line up. Oregon would get as close as 10 points but much like in the first half, they would shoot themselves in the foot with a turnover and the Bruins would go out on another run. The Ducks did play better in the second half though, shooting the ball at 52% and getting to the line again and again. The Ducks shot 22 free throws in the half and overall shot 80% on the night which helped them close the gap against UCLA. They just didn't have enough to come away with the win.
Offensive rebounding continues to be a problem for this young Duck's squad and according to Coach Westhead it is something that is being addressed in practice. "We're not going to turn this until we stop the bleeding on the offensive glass...we've been struggling with it all season, we've been addressing it and practicing it, I think it's focus and attentiveness." Westhead also addressed the turnover issue that seems to plague the team commenting that "If we became a better running team, which we've been striving to do, the turnovers would be cut in half." It's going to be a long Pac-12 season for the Ducks if they can't communicate and share the ball without turning it over. On the game, the Ducks made 24 field goals and committed 25 turnovers. That ratio is not good enough to play competitive basketball in the Pac-12. The Ducks face USC on Sunday at 1PM back at Matthew Knight Arena.