After such a promising start to the Ducks' young season, there is no doubt that after consecutive losses to Portland and Montana, the Oregon men's basketball team is searching for answers to their woeful play as of late. In Saturday's loss to Portland, defense appeared to be the issue, as the Pilots shot over 52 percent from the field, effectively scorching the nets at the Chiles Center. Monday, it was lackluster shooting and inefficient half-court offense execution that hamstrung the Ducks against Montana. Overall, Oregon shot a paltry 33.3 percent from the floor and was out-rebounded by Grizzlies 33-26 for the game, as Montana seemed to feast on opportunities in the low post where the Ducks were without forward Joevan Catron (back) and center Michael Dunigan (hip).
"I thought (Montana) did a good job of switching up from zone to man," said Oregon head coach Ernie Kent, "they do a good job of controlling the tempo of the game on the offensive end where they can milk the clock, but a lot of it is when you don't have an inside presence, you end up being a jump shooting team. And with us banged up -- Joevan out, Mike out -- I just felt like we could never establish the paint."
As Kent alluded to, Oregon's stagnant perimeter play enabled Montana to not control the game from a defensive standpoint, but from an offensive standpoint as well. Grizzly guard Anthony Johnson led all scorers with 20 points (converting 14-of-15 free throw attempts) and center Brian Qvale contributed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. After the game, Teondre Williams admitted the Ducks had difficulty adjusting to Montana's style of play.
"In the first half, I want to say we played a little sluggish on defense," stated Williams, "In the second half we kind of picked it up, but that team was a grind out team and they played all 35 seconds of the shot clock, so we just got to practice."
Williams led Oregon in scoring with 16 points and seemed to be the only player for the Ducks that had any success slashing to the basketball and creating his own shot. Garrett Sim was the only other player for Oregon in double figures in scoring with 11 points, as the rest of the team seemed to struggle finding a rhythm after guard Tajuan Porter suffered an ankle sprain early in the first half. Though he was able to re-enter the game a short time later, Porter's effectiveness in stretching the defense and opening up opportunities for his teammates wasn't the same, as he finished with two points in 24 minutes of action.
"If you get a healthy T.P. that's making buckets, it's going to help everybody's confidence," said Kent, "(but) I just felt when he came back, I thought defensively he wasn't very effective, offensively he wasn't very effective...I just didn't think he was moving very well."
The severity of Porter's injured ankle is unknown, as Kent said it would be further evaluated in the coming days, however one could assume that Porter could very well be fit for Sunday's game vs. Montana State after displaying requisite toughness in returning to the game Monday night.
Sunday's contest against the Bobcats tips at 7:30 pm at McArthur Court.
Ducks Stall, Then Fall To Montana
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