Ducks play kind host
PORTLAND — Dana Altman went down the line in Oregon’s locker room asking each player if they performed well against Connecticut. .
“We went O-fer there,” the coach said. “You are probably not going to be successful when no one is willing to step up and say, ‘I played pretty good’.”
The unofficial host of the Phil Knight Invitational got sent into the consolation bracket when the Huskies pulled away from the Ducks for a 71-63 victory in the opening round Thursday night at Moda Center.
“I let the guys know I was disappointed, and so were they,” Altman said. “We didn’t execute, our ball movement was awful. We took a lot of bad three-pointers and because of that, we shot a poor percentage. We started taking the ball to the basket better in the second half, but in the first half they shot 16 free throws and we shot two. There were a lot of fouls called, but we never quite made that adjustment.”
Oregon was called for 30 fouls, and Elijah Brown, Troy Brown and MiKyle McIntosh fouled out, Paul White picked up two fouls in the first five minutes, and one minute later, Troy Brown was called for his second foul. Those two starters combined to play 15 minutes in the first half.
“That’s not how I saw the game going,” Altman said. “We were in foul trouble right away. That wasn’t the combinations I looked for and then the guys tried to do too much.”
Oregon trailed 38-31 at halftime and faced its biggest deficit at 42-33 before scoring 10 straight points to take the lead. Oregon led 53-48 with 7:56 to play and was up 62-60 when McIntosh made two free throws with 3:25 left to play.
After Connecticut’s Christian Vital tied the game with two free throws, Troy Brown was called for traveling, McIntosh missed a shot inside and UConn scored on back-to-back possessions to take a 66-62 lead.
Payton Pritchard missed a three-pointer and was called for an offensive foul on the next possession, and Victor Bailey missed a three-pointer with 23 seconds left that led to two more free throws by the Huskies, who will face Michigan State in the semifinals Friday night.
Oregon fell to 4-1 and will play DePaul (1-3) at 6:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum, not the matchup the Ducks were seeking in the long-anticipated tournament to honor the 80th birthday of the school’s most famous donor.
“It was not a good effort. I was disappointed from the get-go,” Altman said. “I did not like our energy level or our enthusiasm — the bench wasn’t into it. All in all, not a good effort. We’ll go back to the hotel and game-plan for Friday and make a lot of adjustments.”
Oregon scored on two of its first seven possessions but led 8-7 before Connecticut scored on eight of 10 possessions to take a 24-20 lead. The Huskies went on a 14-2 run late in the first half to take a 38-29 lead.
“It starts with the starters, and we went out there and didn’t have enough attention to detail or intensity on the defensive end,” said McIntosh, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds. “We didn’t do our job.”
Oregon shot 33.3 percent from the field in both halves, but missed all 10 three-pointers in the second half. Pritchard led the Ducks with 14 points on 4-for-13 shooting and Elijah Brown was 2-for-8, including 1-for-6 on three-pointers, to finish with five points in 22 minutes before fouling out.
“We switched up our defense a lot to keep them off balance,” Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. “Dana is a wonderful coach, and if you let him get in a rhythm, he’ll see a mismatch and go right at it. Just to keep Dana off balance a bit we played zone, pressured on defense and man-to-man switching with our smaller lineup affected them a little bit.”
Troy Brown entered the game leading Oregon with 13 points per game, but had six points on 2-for-6 shooting before fouling out.
“That’s something a freshman has to adjust to, and he didn’t handle the fouls very well and struggled tonight,” Altman said. “He wasn’t the only one. We struggled as a team and didn’t have leadership.”
Oregon finished with a season-high 17 turnovers and a season-low seven assists.
“Their ball pressure was okay, but we put ourselves in those positions by dribbling,” Altman said. “Very few times we made them guard, we were in a hurry and guys tried to make a play every time they touched it.”