EUGENE, OR.- The San Francisco Dons came into Matthew Knight Arena averaging 92 points per game on the season. With such an explosive offense, Oregon coach Dana Altman understood that this matchup would challenge his players’ character and defensive discipline. Oregon leads the Dons all-time with an overall record of 7-2, with USF’s last win against the Ducks in 1953.
The Don’s came into Sunday night’s game with their best game face they could possibly display to try to rattle the Ducks, but the mighty Ducks played their hearts out to come out victorious in a 100-82 blowout.
Oregon struggled in the first half, as their starting point guard Jonathan Lloyd tipped off the game with a quick two fouls that sent him to the bench, bringing in Jason Calliste to run the offense. The Don’s came out strong; with their first two points coming off a back-screen ally-oop dunk that definitely shook MKA and sent a message to the Ducks. Oregon quickly realized this one wasn’t going to be easy.
Oregon struggled to move the ball around in the first half with Lloyd out, but Forward Mike Moser and shooting sensation Joseph Young were still able to carry the Ducks, thanks to their incredible one-on-one offensive capabilities. Moser faced up on USF and shot 4-7 for 9 points, while Young did what he does best in dropping threes (2-3) and getting to the line. Damyean Dotson, who had been struggling this season finding his role on the team, finished the half with 7 points on 3-5 shooting.
Oregon shot 60% from three, and 52% overall in the first half, while the Don’s shot a poor 32% overall. The score at the half was 40-35 Oregon – Wait, what?! With the shooting numbers Oregon erupted for compared to USF’s, they should have been up by at least twenty! So what happened? Oregon shot 4-11 at the line, compared to USF’s 8-10, and USF was also able to rack up nine offensive rebounds compared to Oregon’s two. When you give up offensive rebounds, it doesn’t matter if your team is shooting 100% to your opponents 30%, because second chance points will end up winning you the game.
The Ducks were looking to run in the beginning of the first half – and so were the Don’s. However, neither team found success in the style of play, so they both slowed down to set up their half court games. Oregon ran a man-to-man defense the entire game, while the Don’s started off with a 2-3 zone that, after a quick three 3-pointers by the Ducks, quickly turned into a man defense, as well.
With Austin Waverly contributing minimally, coach Atlman gave forward Elgin Cook solid playing time off the bench that led to an outstanding performance, as he finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 5-8 shooting on the game. After discussing their halftime weaknesses, the Ducks came out stronger than ever to compete with the Dons. The Ducks continued to battle on the boards, as they ended up outrebounding USF, 39-38, after being down 23-19 at halftime.
There’s no other way to say it other than, things simply started to click. Jason Calliste ran the offense for the majority of the game, and finished with 16 points, while Damyean Dotson finished with 17 and 6 boards. Young had his lowest scoring game of the year with 12 points, but, with the others playing well and carrying the load of the scoring, Young did what he had to do only when the team really needed it in the first half. Once everyone else got theirs, his night just became a walk in the park.
The pesky Dons kept hanging around in the second half, with only a 14-point deficit to overcome. You kept thinking the Dons would come back at some point, but every time the Dons scored, Oregon would reply — doubly. The Ducks ended up cruising to an 18-point win, as the Duck’s athleticism and pure talent was just too much for USF to handle.
Damyean Dotson admitted in his postgame interview to putting too much pressure on himself to carry the load of the points as he said, “I just let the game come to me, the first couple of games I was forcing, worried about scoring, but tonight I just focused on defense and rebounding.”
When asked about the team in general, Coach Altman said, ” offensively we’re doing fine, my concern is defensively. We gave them 9 second chances . . . We’re not playing as a unit. That’s my job to make that happen, and I’m not doing a very good job of doing that.” Altman continued, “We’re not getting to our spots,” and that’s simply the truth. The fact that USF was able to stay in the game shooting 32%, while the Ducks were shooting incredibly well, means that they’re playing well on one side of the ball, but not the other.
December is going to be a huge month for the Ducks, as they’re finally going to be able to focus solely on basketball once finals are over. That’s the time the Ducks will be able to really improve their team chemistry, so they can play up to their potential like we’ve all been expecting.