EUGENE, Oregon — The Ducks’ 46-game home win-streak from Matthew Knight Arena was snapped on Friday night against Boise State, 73-70. Lexus Williams buried a half court buzzer-beater from the center of the “O.” The devastating bucket ended the nation’s longest active home win-streak.
“A lot of work to do,” said a frustrated UO head coach. “I keep saying that. Our guys are tired of hearing it.”
The last time Oregon lost at home was on January 8, 2015 vs the Arizona Wildcats. That night, the Ducks were dominated 80-62 before winning 46 straight home games.
UO also celebrated back-to-back unbeaten years at MKA. That is a record to behold.
On Friday, the Ducks were defeated by their own methods. Transition buckets were the key in this battle.
“We put ourselves in that position,” said Dana Altman following the defeat. “Fast break points really hurt us. They had zero at halftime and 14 in the second half.”
Payton Pritchard drove the lane, went up and under and off the glass for two with 3.1 seconds left in the game. The MKA crowd was going ballistic as the Ducks fought back to tie the game, 70-70.
Yet, the next 3.1 seconds changed the course of Oregon’s historic run. Lexus Williams rushed down the floor, stooping directly in the middle of the “O” at half court. There, he chucked up a shot that brought Duck fans to their knees, literally.
“Something that will stay with me,” said a stunned Pritchard after the loss. “I knew it was going in right when he shot it.”
The entire building was in shock when the bucket fell for the game-winner. The only noise was coming from the BSU bench.
“Not much you could do from half court,” Pritchard added.
As usual, Altman didn’t make any excuses for his team.
“It comes down to toughness and leadership. We’ve got to get more out of our older guys. We’re putting a tremendous amount of pressure on freshmen. They want to play but we got to get a lot more from our older guys.”
Prior to that miraculous heartbreaker, UO was trailing by six points with 4:38 remaining in the contest. Pritchard’s jumper cut it to four and Paul White’s tally knocked the deficit to one point with just under three minutes.
Elijah Brown drilled one of his biggest buckets of the night when he tripled with 2:07 left. The score cut Boise’s lead to 67-66. Thirty seconds later, Brown hit the go ahead shot, 68-67, as hope was restored for a moment.
Chandler Hutchison hit one of his game-high 10 free throw attempts to knot the game up for the 13th of 14 times.
With 39 seconds remaining, Oregon had an opportunity to win the game. Roman Sorkin missed an early 3-point attempt, but Keith Smith kept it alive on the glass. Yet, the sophomore missed two straight from point blank range. The second miss resulted in a Sorkin foul.
“Guys were pounding the boards,” Altman replied. “I have to look at the film. Rushing to get it back up. Could have pulled out and taken the last shot, but they didn’t feel comfortable.”
Smith drew the start with starter Troy Brown sidelined. Brown and MiKyle McIntosh collided during the final moments of Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma. However, Brown did participate in warmups on Friday and looked to be in good spirits.
Following two free throws by BSU, Pritchard took the game into his own hands with 8.6 seconds left.
The sophomore point guard did everything he possibly could vs the Broncos, but it wouldn’t be enough in the end. The West Linn product tallied a game-high 28 points on 56 percent (9-of-16) from the floor, alongside three rebounds and two assists. He finished one point shy of a career high.
Brown was the only other Duck scorer in double figures. He finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 from the field. He had four dimes, three boards, three steals and a blocked shot.
Some of his shots weren’t falling but he was taking much better attempts. His efficiency will slowly begin to rise if he has more games like Friday.
Hutchison and Zach Haney lived up to the hype and then some. They combined to score 37 points for the Broncos, alongside securing 17 boards.
The future NBA Draft pick, Hutchison, didn’t heat up until the second half. He destroyed the Ducks from the charity stripe, finishing with 20 points and 10 boards. Overall, he attempted (7-of-10) as many free throws as the entire Oregon team.
“We put them on the line way too much,” Altman reiterated. “Pretty bad fouls. We got beat on second-chance points. The difference in the game was a couple free throw misses.”
Haney was a major problem for UO throughout the first 20 minutes. The 6-foot-11 redshirt junior was a monster in the paint, heading to the locker room at halftime with a game-high 15 points. He was shutdown in the second half, finishing with 17 and seven boards.
“We have to cut the fouls down and get a lot tougher defensively,” Altman restated. “A lot tougher on the boards. I challenged the guys. I know we didn’t play real well offensively, but we scored enough to win.”
Justinian Jessup was the x-factor for Boise State on Friday. The southpaw was held scoreless in the first half, but exploded in the second for 15 points on 5-of-8 from downtown. Overall, BSU shot 63 percent from 3-point land in the final 20 minutes.
“It’s going to have to start with us leaders,” Pritchard replied. “We have enough time.”
The hero of evening finished with seven points, nearly half coming on that one miracle. Williams recorded four dimes, three boards and two steals. The Chicago product was 2-of-5 from the field and his only make from deep came on the last play of the evening.
Oregon was increasingly careless with the basketball in the final five minutes. They only made eight turnovers, but a majority occurred down the stretch. Additionally, the Ducks shot 40 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep after halftime.
“It’s all part of the learning process,” stated Pritchard. “Turnovers like I had dribbling off my foot, can’t happen. Also, offensive rebounds on free throws. I know coach will probably say the same thing, but we obviously have to get tougher.”
McIntosh fouled out with 6:40 in the game, but he was playing well before departing. The Illinois State transfer was strong in the paint and tough on the boards. He scored eight points (4-of-7) alongside securing four boards in limited time.
“Think how many fouls are us out of position or reaches,” said Altman. “They’re not in an athletic position. Just not ready to play.”
White tallied nine points (4-of-8) and two boards before he fouled out minutes later.
“It didn’t help us,” stated the head coach in reference to losing players to fouling out. “When our freshmen are out there together, it makes it difficult. It put us in a tough spot. We need those guys to play more than 38 minutes combined.”
The Ducks led by four at the half, 34-30, but never were comfortable against the Broncos. BSU outscored Oregon 43-36 in the second half.
UO’s largest lead of the night was eight points and that came in the second half. In total, the lead changed hands on 15 separate occasions.
Lexus Williams’ half court buzzer-beater
Next up, Oregon (5-3) will host Colorado State (3-4) on Friday night from Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks will be looking to start a new home streak. Tip is slated for 7:00 p.m. PT and will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.
Stay tuned, if you want to; Twitter @TheQuackFiend Gram @eugene_levys_eyebrows