All Washington needed was one more victory to have its longest Pac-12 winning streak in more than five years. Instead, another less flattering streak took over in a 60-45 loss Thursday to Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Huskies have yet to win a game at Knight Arena since it opened in 2011. And the Huskies have not won a game in Eugene since March 2010.
Also, UW was held below 50 points since a 64-47 loss in March 2015 to Colorado at Alaska Airlines Arena. Junior forward Noah Dickerson, who scored 14 points and 11 rebounds, was the only Husky to reach double figures.
“Sometimes you have a game where the ball doesn’t go in the basket,” said Dickerson of a Huskies’ team that shot 27.8 percent from the field.
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“I still thought we played pretty good defense. We held them to 65 points. Short-term memory. We’ll get past it.”
Recent history suggested UW’s loss should not have been too much of a surprise. Current events, however, prompted this could have been the game UW’s streak ended.
UW (17-7, 7-4 Pac-12) had won four straight conference games including wins over then-No. 25 Arizona State and No. 9 Arizona entering Thursday’s game. Plus, Oregon was coming off its worst game of the season after a 96-61 loss at Stanford.
It wasn’t like the Ducks (16-8, 6-5) were nailing shot after shot. At least not at first. They shot 40.7 percent in the first half yet nailed 50 percent of their 28 attempts in the second half.
Oregon continually stretched UW’s defense to find open shots. The Ducks’ smoothest exchange came when they started building a consistent 12-point cushion. They rotated the ball around the floor and the possession ended with Kenny Wooten scoring on an uncontested dunk for a 36-24 lead with 15:07. Wooten’s dunk gave the Ducks their largest lead by that point and reinforced how the Huskies struggled to defend the paint.
Wooten’s dunk was the 22nd point the Ducks had in the paint. They would finish with 36 points from the interior while the Huskies only had 24.
“Just one of those games defensively, we did what we had to do. We just couldn’t score enough points,” Huskies coach Mike Hopkins said. “I thought in the first half, foul trouble hurt us being able to get a good offensive rhythm. We couldn’t get a good flow. You gotta give Oregon the credit there. They’re switching defenses.”
Hopkins said the Huskies had better opportunities in the second half but struggled in transition and in the paint.
UW only scored four points on the fast break while Oregon scored 10. Wooten was the biggest reasons why the Huskies failed to carve a niche inside.
Wooten, who is averaging 2.7 blocks, had a season-high seven against the Huskies. He also scored 12 points and five rebounds off a 6-for-7 performance from the field.
The conference’s leading shot-blocker showed why he could challenge UW’s Matisse Thybulle for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Thybulle, who averages 3.1 steals, had two on an evening when he shot 1-for-7 for two points and five rebounds.
Dickerson aside, the rest of the Huskies’ starters combined for 16 points and 14 rebounds while shooting a collective 7-for-34 from the field (20.5 percent). Junior point guard David Crisp was 2-for-10 while sophomore center Sam Timmins was 0-for-2.
Crisp, as the Huskies were down 43-30, drove inside only to miss the shot. Timmins grabbed two offensive rebounds but missed both shots. Oregon’s Mikyle McIntosh grabbed a rebound and the Ducks parlayed UW’s missed shot into Troy Brown scoring on a layup. Brown’s bucket pushed the lead to 45-30 with 11:10 left in the game.
Perhaps the series that said it all came midway though the second half. UW worked the ball around and found an open Dominic Green. Green, who came in shooting 54 percent from the 3-point line in Pac-12 play, missed the open shot. Oregon got the rebound and free throw from McIntosh made it 46-30.
“I felt today though it came down to Oregon playing like it was life or death,” Hopkins said. “You gotta match that. You gotta fight for that. Especially when you're on the road.”
Washington has experienced poor first halves this season but this may have been the worst it has encountered.
UW’s 21 points was the lowest amount its had in the opening half in Pac-12 competition. The only stretch that was poorer came when UW scored 17 in the second half of a 74-53 loss Dec. 31 at UCLA.
The Huskies went 8-for-26 and only converted 30.8 percent of its shots from the field. They were also 3-for-10 from the 3-point line.
Nowell, who entered shooting 48.3 percent, was only 2-for-8 for 25 percent. He also committed three turnovers and had two fouls. The former Seattle Garfield High star finished 4-for-15 with nine points and five turnovers.
He did, however, drive inside for a dunk to give the Huskies a 19-16 lead with 7:18 left. It was part of a quick 6-0 run that would be short-lived.
Oregon, despite not getting a field goal in the half’s final two-plus minutes, went on a 12-2 run to close out the half for a 28-21 lead.
Turnovers and fouls troubled the Huskies as a whole.
UW had three starters — Dickerson, Nowell and Timmins — who had two or more fouls by half.
Hopkins watched his team also commit nine turnovers in the half, the same amount the Huskies had over two halves in a 78-75 win over Arizona on their last game.
Washington committed 16 turnovers and were assessed with 19 fouls. Nowell had four while Crisp, Dickerson and Timmins each had three.
“We gotta go back and see the film for this one,” Dickerson said. “Each game is different but one of the problems of the game was we couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark