Finally, a return to action. After a long, covid-related layoff, the Ducks finally returned to action Saturday night against their in-state rivals, the Oregon State Beavers. However, this Oregon team took the court without two key players, as Chris Duarte and LJ Figueroa missed the game due to contact-tracing. Luckily, frosh guard Jalen Terry was able to return to the team after missing the past few games, giving Oregon the minimum eight scholarship players they needed in order to play.
The game started in a back-and forth affair, as Oregon traded buckets with the Beavers, trying to find their rhythm without Duarte and Figueroa. Unfortunately, the Ducks had trouble early with fouls, they had four in the first five minutes of the half. When you only have eight scholarship players, that’s a recipe for disaster. Eric Williams and Eugene Omoruyi were going to be counted on early and often to carry the Ducks, and they seemed determined to live up to the challenge, scoring 8 of the Ducks’ first 10 points.
While the pace of the game had been relatively fast, neither team shot particularly well early on. With 8 minutes left, both the Ducks and Beavers had only made one three-point attempt each. Despite the physical nature of the contest that usually favors Oregon, the Beavers held a 21-12 advantage, as they were effective at restricting any second-chance opportunities for the Ducks, who were also struggling to knock down their free-throw opportunities. Oregon State’s Jarod Lucas started to heat up late in the half, five straight points by the sophomore extended the Beaver’s lead to double digits.
A couple threes and a big dunk by Eric Williams Jr. at the end of half helped close the gap, but the Ducks went into the half down 34-28.
Oregon’s hot finish to the first half turned into a hot start for the second, two back-to-back threes completed the Ducks’ comeback from down 13 in the first half to tie it before the Beavers retook the lead. A Ducks team that couldn’t hit a three to save their collective lives in the first half had suddenly made their last four attempts. Despite a solid run by the Ducks, the Beavers weren’t ready to roll over, as some strong play of their own helped them regain a seven point lead.
Oregon State’s Alatishe was dominating the Ducks down low and despite Oregon playing their full-court press and tough physical defense, they weren’t having much luck stopping the Beavers from making shots and grabbing rebounds. Every time the Ducks made plays to shorten the gap, OSU was able to keep them at bay through success down in the post and solid ball movement to find an open shooter. With eight minutes left, the Ducks were down ten and their 28 game winning streak at home, the 4th best in the nation, was at real risk of ending.
As the half wore on, the Ducks continued to struggle sustaining a consistent level of play on both ends of the court, unable to stop the Beavers from getting the looks they wanted as well as making enough shots to really challenge OSU’s lead. With four minutes left, the Beavers led 65-54. The rest of the game played out the same as it had all night, with the Ducks just not getting enough done on either end to really challenge the Beavers down the stretch.
Oregon State 75, Oregon 64.
Something that Oregon was lacking tonight were turnovers that led to fast-break opportunities, which is an area that both Duarte and Figueroa have excelled in this year. The two average four steals per game, and their ability to jump passing lanes and create quick points on the fast break has been something that have helped Oregon out time and again this year. The importance of their hopeful return to play for Oregon’s three game trip in Los Angeles can’t be understated. Jalen Terry missed the last four games, but you wouldn’t know it watching him tonight, he scored 13 points and looked good handling the ball. He didn’t record an assist, but he moved the ball around well.