It was the second-straight loss to open up league play for the Huskies (7-7, 0-2), while the Ducks (14-2, 3-0) won without big nights from their two leading scorers, Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher.
Oregon was led by the eight three-pointers and 28 points overall from Tyler Dorsey, while Jordan Bell - who was hurt in the first half but came back to play - added 10 more.
Washington's leading scorer was once again freshman Markelle Fultz, who had 22 points despite having to travel back to his hometown to attend his great-grandmother's funeral earlier in the week. David Crisp added 14 for the Huskies.
"We're playing good basketball, sound basketball, and then the next thing you know the team goes on a 4-6 run and it's hard for us to collect ourselves right now and fight through it," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "In the second half I believe it was close to 11 minutes left, they were up 10, we were at the line, still an eight point game that the time but it just seemed like it was so much farther out, they were so much further out in front of us. But the game was still within reach no doubt but we didn't handle the situation very well."
The game was pretty much an even affair for the first 14 minutes, but then, with the Huskies up three Oregon went to work. They scored 12 points in a row in a 2:09 stretch to give the Ducks a 33-24 lead. UO's Dylan Ennis hit his only two three-pointers heading into halftime as the Ducks cruised to a 42-33 advantage.
"Just lack of focus on the defensive end," Fultz said when asked about the run. "Just not finding shooting in transition. Little things like that. It was our own mistakes that hurt us tonight."
Washington came out with six-straight points to give themselves a fighting chance, but the Ducks rebuffed that charge with seven-straight of their own. Once Oregon earned their double-digit lead, the best Washington could do was trim it to eight with 11:55 remaining after two Fultz free throws, but then a 12-2 run buried the Huskies for good.
"Right now our team, in terms of being a work in progress, we're a little fragile when we hit adversity," said Romar. "We haven't been able to fight through adversity yet."
Dorsey, who had three three-pointers in the first half, torched UW for 17 second-half points.
"His first two shots were wide open," Crisp said of Dorsey. "You give anybody two wide open shots and they hit them, then the rest of the game they're going to have their rhythm. So I think we did a terrible job on that. There's no way we should let anybody come in and hit eight 3's on us."
The Ducks showed they should be there at the end when it comes to crowning a Pac-12 regular-season champion. With their two leading scorers totaling 18 points and their center hurt for a part of the game, Oregon was able to get contributions from other scorers, like Dorsey, Ennis, Payton Pritchard and Seattle native Keith Smith, who chipped in with six points.
"Guys step up. I think we had good performances. Casey (Benson) off of the bench gave us good minutes, Keith gave us good minutes, Roman (Sorkin) gave us good minutes in the first half. We had a lot of guys make contributions but with Tyler we did a good job of running a couple of things for him to get some shots and then guys found him in transition.
"He just had one of those games. When you go 8-12 from three it covers a lot of mistakes."
So where does the loss leave the Huskies? If you're Fultz, you're doubling down and working even harder to fix problems.
"I think when you lose I’m actually more motivated to come out to the next game," he said. "I think the whole team is like that. Of course we want to win every game, but when you lose you really feel something inside you that makes you want to go to practice and get better the next day and come out for the next game and win.”
“We have to play well," Romar added when asked about their upcoming game hosting Oregon State. "There’s no doubt about it. We have to come out and play well on Saturday.”
On Oregon’s 12-0 run in the first half “Just lack of focus on the defensive end. Just not finding the shooter in transition. Little things like that. Just not getting back. These are our own mistakes that hurt us tonight.”
Are you surprised that the defensive lapses keep showing up? “No. I think we’re actually improving a lot. We’re sticking people a lot more. It’s going to be a process. Hopefully sooner or later we’re going to be playing the whole game the way we want to. We just are going to keep working on it, improve from this game and just find out what we messed up on and do better at it.”
Did you want to force Oregon to shoot threes? “We respect every basketball team. We knew that they could shoot, even though maybe they’re not hitting right now in the season. Our mindset was just play them straight up like they could shoot and drive. We did a good job of that for the most part, but like we said, we just lost focus and they got a lot of open shots. None of them were contested really. Most of them were open. Like (David Crisp) said, if you give anybody an open shot they’re going to knock it down.
Why hasn’t the work on defense led to better results? “I’m not sure. I mean we’re going to practice, practicing hard, getting better at practice. I think the team thinks it also. Then we come out in a game and we can see that we can play with the best of them. Oregon is a great team and we hung in there for a long time. We have to do it the whole game like I said. In order to do that we have to keep working. We keep working each and every day and eventually it’s going to happen.”
What happened at the beginning of the second half that led to the good start for UW? “Defense. We played defense, we got back in transition, we took care of the ball on offense. A lot of their points also came off just us turning the ball over and them getting easy baskets or just us running up to the ball when they get the ball. Things like that. It was mostly stuff that we did, not anything else.”
On keeping positive with progress being made “Always. I think when you lose I’m actually more motivated to come out to the next game. I think the whole team is like that. Of course we want to win every game, but when you lose you really feel something inside you that makes you want to go to practice and get better the next day and come out for the next game and win.”
Did Oregon do anything that made it harder to score? “Not really. They changed their defenses a lot. They run a little matchup zone. That causes a lot of teams to get stagnant and not really move. At times we did stand around but that was about the first couple minutes. Then when we started driving, getting in the paint stuff was opening up.”
How hard is it when a guy like Tyler Dorsey gets going? “I mean his first two shots were wide open. You give anybody two wide open shots and they hit them, for the rest of the game they’re going to have their rhythm. I think we did a terrible job on that. There’s no way we should let anybody come in and hit eight threes on us. The screens, we weren’t communicating through those on flare screens. We just have to do a better job communicating.”
Opening “Stating the obvious, Oregon is a really good basketball team. They play like a team that has experienced success in the past and they know exactly what it takes to be successful. They’re coming off of an Elite Eight and they bring that pass into each and every game with them. The way they go about their business you can just see that each one of them know their roles. They’re well coached. They know who’s supposed to take the shots, who’s not supposed to take the shots. They’re experienced. They’re not only experienced with success, but they’re a veteran team that just knows how to play. Every time we made a mistake we paid for it tonight because they’re very efficient.”
On not capitalizing on opportunities down low with Oregon in foul trouble “If you’re talking about putting the ball in the basket you’re exactly right. We got the ball inside and we weren’t able to convert. We missed some free throws. We were getting the ball where we wanted to get it but we weren’t able to convert. So if you’re talking about the end result we didn’t convert. No. We weren’t able to make them pay.”
On the 12-0 run from Oregon “It’s very disappointing because - same thing against Washington State - right now our team, in terms of being a work in progress, we’re a little fragile when we hit adversity. We haven’t been able to fight through adversity yet. We’re going to need to because we’re about to go on the road here for a stretch. We’re playing good basketball, sound basketball, and then the next thing you know the team goes on a run and it’s hard for us to collect ourselves right now and fight through it. In the second half, I believe it was close to 11 minutes left, they were up 10. We were at the line. It’s still an eight point game at that time, but it just seemed like it was so much further out; they were so much further out in front of us. The game was still within reach, there’s no doubt. We didn’t handle the situation very well.”
Why was it so hard to find three point shooters tonight? “Dylan Ennis, he hit one I know at half. I think he made two. After that it was one guy pretty much. Tyler Dorsey made eight of them. There were a couple of possessions where there were things that we talked about, the basics that we go over, that we had breakdowns on. He got a couple open looks. In transition we lost him a couple times. You let a guy like Tyler Dorsey see the rim and study the rim a couple of times without anybody contesting his shot he’s going to find his rhythm and now he’s going to make everything. I believe that’s what happened.”
How concerning are the breakdowns this late into the season? “They’re definitely concerning. It happened at the end of the game against Washington State. Definitely a pattern. It becomes concerning when it’s a pattern.”
Why hasn’t progress in practice on defense led to better results? “I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on it. But I know we’ve taken a step back that way. We’ve got to regroup. Definitely have to regroup.”
Are you starting to feel pressure to turn the program around? “I’ve said this before, whatever I’m doing or a group is doing internally the pressure mounts because you want to do well. You drop one, you drop two, yeah the pressure mounts because we have to get this thing right. For me it’s not pressure in terms of we haven’t - I want to be the best we can be every day. That’s the bottom line. When that is not happening that’s concerning for me as a head coach. What we need to do, what I need to do as head coach is continue to work so that this stuff doesn’t happen.”
Comparing the compliance of last year’s team to this year’s team “They want to do what we ask them to do, but since this group has been in college, the sophomore’s included and you know Malik (Dime) has only been here one year - they were able to walk in and see a senior, Andrew Andrews, do what was supposed to be done, but by and large we haven’t experienced that success yet. Dejounte Murray, Marquese Chriss, Andrew Andrews, those were some tough kids. Those are some really tough kids and we would get down, things like that would happen, things like have happened so far, and there was grit with those guys. Now we have to as a group find some others that are able to step up and start to show that grit. One of the guys that’s starting to step up to me is David Crisp. He’s starting to do that. You can just see it in his eyes. We need to do it more as a group.”
Is there any concern with the offense finding scorers outside of David Crisp and Markelle Fultz? “No because that hasn’t been a pattern. Noah (Dickerson) was a double-double machine until recently here. Was it 19 he had against Washington State? Noah has been a reliable scorer for us, David (Crisp) has been a reliable scorer for us, and Markelle (Fultz) has been a reliable scorer for us. No need to push the panic button on that one yet. That’s probably the best thing that we’ve done. Oregon, they did a great job guarding us. Like I said, it seems like that’s kind of been their pattern. That’s why they’ve been a good team this year; they’ve been guarding really well. I don’t think we can look at that as a team and say ‘uh oh.’”
Do you go into the locker room after a tough loss like this with the same composure with with you do interviews? “I think our guys know when I’m not pleased as head coach. I’m not as composed as I am now in front of them. But always trying to teach. Always trying to teach and motivate.”
Does this put more pressure on Saturday’s game? “We have to play well. There’s no doubt about it. We have to come out and play well on Saturday.”