Things did not get off to the start that Dana Altman was looking for in the attempt to sweep the season series with the California Golden Bears. Not much went right for the Ducks in the opening five minutes of the game as California jumped out to a fast lead. At the first timeout coming at the 14:56 mark, the Golden Bears led 18-6 thanks to the 4-4 three point shooting.
Absolutely everything was falling in the early going for California as they extended the lead to 23-9. Adding insult to the start, the Ducks saw sophomore big man Jordan Bell briefly limp off after colliding with a California player.
The Oregon defense came out playing the worst stretch they’ve played all year. With ten minutes to play, the Golden Bears had extended the lead up to 18. The Ducks offense wasn’t much better either as nothing dropped. During a period of play in the first ten minutes, Oregon failed to hit on seven straight field goals and endured a scoring drought of 4:12.
Chris Boucher finally broke the drought after a hard fought rebound and put back. With seven minutes to play in the first half the Ducks found their first semblance of momentum. On back-to-back possessions, Tyler Dorsey led the way as he nailed a three and then assisted on a Boucher dunk. However, with four minutes to play in the half Oregon was still down 35-19.
With the California offense finally cooling down the Ducks offense was unable to make up any ground, going through yet another 0 for 4 shooting drought. Rebounding was a major problem during this stretch as the Golden Bears time and time again were allowed multiple chances.
Dwayne Benjamin did his best to make a run as he dropped in four points in a span of a minute. Unfortunately it was too little as the Ducks remained down 24-42. The shooting was the difference as California shot an astounding 60% from behind the arch. Oregon shot just 35.7% from the field and only 2 for 11 from three. Rebounding was another key as California had a seven-rebound lead at the half. The Ducks were led at the half by the eight points of Benjamin.
Things in the second half started about as bad as possible. What started with Boucher getting rejected at the rim turned into a transition dunk by Ivan Rabb as California pushed the advantage back to 20. Yet after the poor opening minute the Ducks started to find a rhythm. Thanks to a six-nothing run thanks to easy buckets the Ducks had a pulse again.
But before Bill Walton could spit out another story, the Bears pushed the lead right back up to 22 after the offense continuously attacked Boucher. At the first timeout of the second half, the score stood at 52-30.
The appearance of Jordan Bell in the second half finally broke a 10-0 California run with a nice jump hook. The Ducks just couldn’t catch a break anywhere though as it seemed every second chance opportunity fell right into the hands of a waiting California player. At the under-12 timeout the score was 36-60.
After the timeout, Dillon Brooks showed his first signs of life as he brought his total for the night up to eight. But for whatever reason the Oregon defense simply couldn’t get anything going allowing dribble penetration at will. The refs weren’t much help to the Ducks either as the Golden Bears seemed to get quite a few calls at the rim.
The highlight of the night for Oregon came at the eight-minute mark on a put back dunk by Elgin Cook, likely the one and only highlight of the night. At the under-eight minute timeout the Ducks were still down 68-44.
Out of the timeout, the Ducks made a quick run thanks to the contributions from Brooks. Over just a quick minute, Oregon went on an 8-0 run to make one last push. With five and a half minutes left the lead had been cut to 15.
Second chance points continued to absolutely kill the Ducks and after two straight second chance field goals the lead was back to 19 at the final time out of the game. California would finish off the game for an 83-63 victory. California outrebounded the Ducks by a 39-26 margin while also shooting 55.7% compared to Oregon’s 42.6%. The loss drops Oregon to 20-5 overall and 9-3 in conference play.
Takeaways of the afternoon.
Still in the drivers seat. The good news of the night is that the Ducks still are in the drivers seat for a Pac-12 title. With only one game this year against Arizona, the Ducks already claim that tiebreaker. They also currently claim the tiebreaker over USC with the next matchup coming in the first week of March. No denying this is a tough loss, but things are still very bright.
Boucher Bullied. As mentioned, the rebounding differential was a major contribution to the loss tonight. Chris Boucher had a large part in that as he was absolutely bullied in the paint. This was certainty not the paint dominating, shot altering performance that we’ve come accustomed to this season.
Kendall Small. I was impressed in the brief minutes that Small had tonight. Sure, he only had five points and one assist but the tempo he brought was much needed. With Casey Benson having a rough night it was nice to know there is a somewhat viable backup come tournament time.
Oregon top performance:
Dillon Brooks. 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists.