It was a tale of two halves Thursday night at McArthur Court, as Oregon trailed by only three at halftime, 37-40, before the unranked Washington Huskies turned up the intensity and ran away with the game in the second half behind the dynamic guard play of freshman Isaiah Thomas and senior Justin Dentmon. Both players were a thorn in Oregon's side on both ends of the floor, particularly on offense, combining for 45 points (Thomas with 23 and Dentmon with 22) on a collective 14-of-32 shooting from the field.
"In the second half they kind of got us going right off the bat with a few baskets," said Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar of Thomas and Dentmon, "They just did a really good job. They were intense and focused."
In the first half, it appeared that Oregon was the team that possessed the superior will and desire. Not only did the Ducks out-rebound the Huskies at halftime, they played spirited defense as well. The low post play of freshman center Michael Dunigan. in particular, was most notable, as the Chicago native scored 11 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while swatting away 4 shots. Dunigan, along with fellow freshman center, Josh Crittle, held Husky senior forward Jon Brockman in check for most of the game.
"I think we did a good job against [Brockman]," said junior forward Joevan Catron, "He got a couple of offensive rebounds there, but our key was to not let him get his little dump-ins because that's his offense, so we tried to take that away and make him do things he didn't want to do and I think we did a good job.
Though Brockman finished the game with a double-double -- scoring 10 points and 10 rebounds and becoming the Huskies' all-time rebounding leader in the process -- he was essentially neutralized by Catron, who chipped in 12 points and 10 boards of his own. Yet, despite the admirable efforts of Dunigan and Catron, the Ducks, like so many times this season, self-destructed. Missed opportunites in the form of open shots and costly turnovers in transition, spelled out the Ducks' doom. After shooting a rather acceptable 40 percent from the field in the first half, Oregon went ice cold, going 10-of-30 in the second half and finishing the game committing 20 turnovers (15 of which came from Oregon guards Kamyron Brown, Garrett Sim, and Tajuan Porter); a compromising stat that Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent didn't shy away from after the game.
"You can't defend turnovers when teams are getting out and getting lay-ups against you," said Kent, "It really wasn't our defense, it was our offense turning the ball over that gave them some easy buckets...when you look at their points again and they score 40 points [in the first half] and 16 of them are coming from turnovers and another eight are coming because of second shots, that's not saying your defense is bad -- our defense was pretty good good in the game I thought -- I just didn't think we took care of the basketball. One of the things with Washington in defending them, is not turning the ball over. That's a big part of their offense."
External pressure and urgency continues to mount on the young Ducks, as the team looks to breakthrough and tally their first Pac-10 win of the season against Washington State at Mac Court on Saturday.
"Every game gets bigger for us," acknowledged Coach Kent after the game, "I don't care if we win against Washington State here at home, the next game is still just as big. They are all big games for us because we need wins. Not only do we need wins, we want to get better and we want to clean up things and play better basketball."
Ducks Hounded In 84-67 Loss To Huskies
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