TEMPE, AZ.- After an emotional roller coaster of a loss to the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday evening, we wondered how much more of a beating could the Ducks take before saying enough is enough. On Saturday, Oregon looked to push themselves beyond all of the adversity they have faced this season, and outshine the Arizona State Sun Devils.
This was another one of those come-down-to-the-last-shot-and-come-up-empty sort of games, as the Ducks took on another L, losing 74-72. But holy moly did they put up a great fight (or what?), and this one may not have necessarily been totally on them.
The first half was one to be forgotten. Oregon shot a pathetic 25% from the field, and 8% from three, while Arizona State had a fantastic half, shooting 68% from the field, and 43% from three. Oregon was unable to score a basket — it was as simple as that. They had relatively good ball movement, and were finding the open guys, but the ball just didn’t want to drop, no matter what.
While the Ducks struggled a whole lot to find someone who could stroke it, on the other side of the court was the Arizona State big man Jordan Bachynski, a known Oregon Duck ‘killer’.
Bachynski is the leading shot blocker in the NCAA, and he proved his dominance in the paint once more against the Ducks. He was the definition of a game-changer in the first half, as he dropped 18 points and gathered five rebounds, as well as being a huge shot-changer on the inside, making it almost impossible for the Ducks to find an opportunity to score in the paint.
When the Sun Devils led 43-23 at the half, it was pretty clear that the Ducks weren’t meant to win the game . . . until Joseph Young decided to go bananas in the second half, that is.
Oregon began the second half by applying a full-court press, that led to Arizona State turning the ball over multiple times, and having a difficult time scoring. The Ducks responded and pulled themselves back into the game.
It started with a few turnovers that led to some opportunities for Young and Jason Calliste, swinging the momentum in the Ducks’ favor. They continued to push through their deficit, point by point, as Young was absolutely unconscious hitting every shot that he took in the second half.
Young had no points in the first half, and finished with 29 on the game. He had an absolutely MVP-type performance that, had the Ducks come out with the win, would have been remembered for a long time.
As the Ducks came back from a game-high 21-point deficit and took the lead with a couple of minutes left, some questionable calls led to Arizona State getting easy free throw opportunities, and regaining the lead.
With four seconds left, Arizona State led, 74-72, and Oregon had a chance to send this one to overtime. Johnny Loyd sprinted down the court and made an absolutely incredible dime to the hero Young cutting backside on the baseline. Young shot the reverse lay up on the pass, but the ‘Cats’ big man Bachynski, was just too much to handle as he swung over to make the block, denying Oregon the opportunity to tie the game.
This one definitely was a heart-breaker, but the Ducks have been showing a lot of spunk in their recent games, and with just a few more adjustments, could have potentially won those games.
With a long flight back to snowy Eugene, maybe they’ll have an opportunity to make the adjustments necessary and get back on track in the near future.