EUGENE, Ore. — Outside of Washington’s locker room in the bottom of pristine Matthew Knight Arena, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar unknowingly was doing an impression.
Romar termed the opposition “dynamic” then lamented his team’s turnovers and transition defense. He sounded like opposing coaches used to after losing to the Huskies.
But Saturday, he was working through the flipside of that discussion following Washington’s third consecutive loss, an 81-76 defeat at the hands of the 16th-ranked Ducks on Saturday before 12,364 fans.
Conference-leader Oregon (18-2 overall, 7-0 Pac-12) used the layered, attacking style Washington (12-8, 4-3) has been known to employ. Past Huskies teams used a mentality that roster depth and referees not calling every slap or grab allowed them to play with manic aggression. That’s how Ducks coach Dana Altman has molded Oregon’s approach in the three years he’s been in Eugene.
It troubled the Huskies as they turned the ball over a season-high 21 times. They had 15 turnovers
in the first half, one short of their previous season-high for a game. Oregon converted 18 points off turnovers in the first half and 27 in the game.
“The number one thing we talked about in terms of being successful against them was defensive transition in terms of limiting their points in transition,” Romar said. “They’re good at it. They have a lot of guys that can go in and make plays. That hurt us.”
The counter to that was 65-percent shooting in the first half by the Huskies, leaving Washington behind at the break, 37-33. Scott Suggs scored Washington’s first seven points. Andrew Andrews scored the next seven.
Altman was not going to let C.J. Wilcox beat the Ducks, as Oregon’s constant pressure limited him to 14 points. That ties Wilcox’s lowest total in conference play. The three 3-point attempts he got up tied for a season-low.
Oregon’s steals, turnovers and pressure mounted midway through the second half to turn its steady lead into a significant one. Ducks forward Arsalan Kazemi scored and was fouled with 10:43 to go, and his free throw pushed the lead to 59-48.
Abdul Gaddy hit a 3-pointer to chop the deficit back to eight during his aggressive second half. Gaddy scored 11 points after the break and hit two 3-pointers on the night. It was the first time he made more than one 3-pointer in a game since Dec. 22.
Back up the floor, Washington forced a discombobulated Oregon possession that ended with a 3-point heave from point guard Johnathan Loyd that clanged off the rim. Kazemi held off Desmond Simmons to grab the rebound, then put the ball back up and in while being fouled. His free throw put Oregon back in front by 11.
Four minutes later, Kasemi’s layup gave Oregon its largest lead, 68-54, with 5:08 remaining. He was 4-for-4 from the field and scored eight of his 11 points in a 5:35 span late in the second half.
The Ducks did all this with starting guard Dominic Artis out with a foot injury.
Washington began to foul intentionally and chip away in the final two minutes. Oregon was 11-for-17 from the free-throw line in that span, allowing the Huskies’ aggressive approach to help them creep closer. But UW never put full tension into the afternoon. Suggs’ 3-pointer with six seconds left made the final deficit look more agreeable.
As did Washington’s effort. The malaise that came with losses to Utah and Oregon State was not present in Eugene. Washington came out with an engaged, if sloppy start. It still pushed when the game appeared decided.
“We did a lot of positive things and we had a heartbeat,” Romar said. “If we have a heartbeat, that’s what we’re talking about, you bring forth focus and effort, and then, we’ll deal with the rest. We’ll come out on the positive side more than we will the other if we bring more focus and effort.”
Andrews finished with a team-high 15 points. Shawn Kemp Jr. had the most productive game of his Washington career with 12 points and six rebounds. Suggs and Gaddy scored 13 apiece. Washington also forced 23 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas