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Thursday was a rough day for Northwest teams in Pac-12 Basketball

USA Today

Thursday was a rough day for Northwest teams in Pac-12 Basketball

By Sebastian Pycior

The Washington Huskies season continues its nosedive following last night’s loss against the Utah Utes. In fact, maybe this loss should have been predicted, as the results nearly matched the outcome of the last meeting between the two teams. The Utes beat the Huskies 70 – 58 last night on Montlake.

Noah Dickerson was completely shut down by the Utes’ defense, and the Huskies struggled to find any offense during this game. Besides David Crisp’s 18 points, no other Husky finished with more than 9 points.

Barring a PAC-12 tournament win from the Huskies, it doesn’t look like the Huskies will be attending March Madness this season, most likely finding themselves in the National Invitation Tournament instead. However, this has still been a successful season for this Husky team, especially under the guidance under new coach Mike Hopkins. The Huskies take on Colorado on Saturday evening.

Down in Southern California, the Oregon Ducks tragically fell short of upending the USC Trojans. Tied 70 – 70 in the final seconds, the Ducks trap defense was exposed as USC guard Jordan McLaughlin lobbed the ball to Chimezie Metu, who was waiting in the short corner behind Oregon’s MiKyle McIntosh.

McIntosh came up big for the Ducks, piling up 23 points. Sure the Ducks could’ve played better defense so as to not allow 70 points, but they also were well rounded on the offensive side of the ball. Pritchard contributed 17 points in the effort.

The Ducks have another tough matchup against UCLA this Saturday. If the Ducks can bounce back and regain momentum heading into next week, they have a decent chance at beating both Arizona teams.

As of now, the Ducks might have a better path to March Madness than the Huskies. This team only suffered one bad loss against the Stanford Cardinal a couple of weeks ago, but have largely stayed competitive in most of their games. The Huskies on the other hand, were easily handled by the Ducks, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, twice to Utah, and to UCLA. For Washington, wins against Kansas and Arizona won’t be enough to overcome a bunch of blowouts.

Moving forward, both coaches need to find a way to motivate their players after tough losses. For the Huskies, they need Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell to start hitting shots from three point range again. They combined to make just 3 shots from downtown against the Utes, which didn’t help opening up the paint.

The Ducks suffered another loss at the buzzer, so they need to take this game against USC as another learning opportunity on how to finish games. Hindsight is forever 20/20, but coach Dana Altman should have had his team in a man-to-man defense through the end of regulation instead of disguising his trap defense. Altman had the Ducks start the final play in man defense, until McLaughlin broke away. It seemed as Altman knew exactly what the play was going to be, since the Ducks reacted to the breakaway on point. The Ducks sent both guards to chase the ball, while having their other three players sit in a zone defense.

Zone defenses puts too much trust on each player’s peripheral abilities instead of just having each one of your own defenders matchup individually. It’s important to make sure each offensive player gets knocked out of their desired path, and USC’s Metu got to the basket untouched after Oregon’s attempt at trapping McLaughlin.

It was a tough lesson today for Pacific Northwest basketball, and maybe there’s a miracle in the works for both of these teams. Both Hopkins and Altman will need to quickly reset before the weekend in order to keep any hope at March Madness alive.

Self-inflicted wounds doom the Beavers in loss to Trojans


Self-inflicted wounds doom the Beavers in loss to Trojans

Just five minutes into the game the Beavers were already down 14-0. Missed field goal, dropped touchdown passes, inexcusable turnovers, you name it, the Beavers found ways to hurt themselves.  Did USC stop the Beavers, or did OSU stop itself? Whatever the answer, the Beavers have to move on and regroup in preparation for Colorado next Saturday. 

Final score in LA: USC 38 – OSU – 10





USC hits the "bull's-eye" on Beavers' back in extra innings

USC hits the "bull's-eye" on Beavers' back in extra innings

CORVALLIS -- Something very unusual happened at Goss Stadium Saturday afternoon on the campus of Oregon State University. The Beavers, ranked No. 1 in the country, lost a baseball game.

As you might expect, the USC Trojans (19-21 overall and 6-11 in the Pac-12) had quite a celebration on the field after the final out in the 10th inning of their 7-5 win. And why not? When you're No. 1, you're the biggest game on everyone's schedule. There isn't anybody in sports who doesn't get excited about playing against the very best team in the nation. And the Beavers have been dealing with that for weeks.

"We've got a bull's-eye on our backs and we're No. 1 in the nation and we need to embrace that," said OSU third baseman Michael Gretler, who had a home run and a single in a losing cause. "That's what we want. That's why a lot of us came here. That's our goal every year. We just need to do a better job of coming out and being ready to go."

Oregon State Coach Pat Casey had a  more succinct way of putting it:

"We've got to respond to everyone's desire to kick our ass every day and we probably didn't do that today," Casey said. "You don't play anybody in this league who can't beat you."

"I say this every day... USC, if they're playing somebody else, there's probably not that kind of energy, We didn't do some of the things we typically do well and it caught up to us today. Baseball's an unforgiving game, that's for sure.

"We've got to do some things better."

To be fair, the Beavers are 33-4 overall and 17-3 in the conference and should be forgiven for a loss once in a while -- especially when it's the first home defeat of the season. Stanford sits a distant second in the conference at 11-7 and California is 12-8. Oregon State has responded to challenges all season, but this wasn't its usual day. In front of a regular-season record crowd of 3,420 the Beavers didn't play the way they normally do.

"Pitching and defense win games and offense determines by how much," Casey said. "We needed to pitch and defend and we didn't do it. You're playing a team that's offensive as heck and when you give them extra opportunities..."

A two-out, nobody-on throwing error cost the Beavers two runs in the middle of the game and then a bobbled grounder led to two more in the 10th.

It really wasn't the Beavers' day. But there haven't been many of those this season.

The rubber game of the series is scheduled for 1:05 Sunday at Goss.

No. 5 Oregon survives the USC heat with 81-70 win


No. 5 Oregon survives the USC heat with 81-70 win

How Oregon won: What a complete turn of events from their first meeting back in December. What was then a 84-61 Oregon blowout over USC, is now a different story. No. 5 Oregon, coming off its second conference loss at UCLA last Thursday, both teams had a different look and feel. This was a battle. But No. 5 Oregon (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) survived the USC heat with a 81-70 win over the Trojans (21-5, 8-5 Pac-12).

Foul trouble haunted the Ducks all night. Junior forward Dillon Brooks fouled out with 3:28 left to go in the game, Ducks only up 68-63. Brooks, who lead all Ducks scores with 21 points going 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. 

Oregon would finish the game behind sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, freshman guard Payton Pritchard, senior guard Dylan Ennis, junior forward Jordan Bell, and senior forward Chris Boucher with under three minutes to go and a three point lead. Dorsey found his shot. Finally. The sophomore guard came alive in the final two minutes draining two three’s and helping extend Oregon’s lead to 76-68 with under two minutes to go. 

What it means: This was a huge win for the Ducks, especially coming off a loss last Thursday. However, Oregon still has a lot to work on and it starts with ball movement, a common trend this season. The team had a cumulative 13 assists, 13 turnovers, and 19 fouls tonight. The Ducks will have to clean this up for the rest of conference play because they have quite the target on their back from Utah, Colorado, and California all coming up this month. 

But having four starters score in double digits doesn't hurt either.

Following practice last week in Eugene, Boucher said that Oregon's offense starts with their defense. Tonight, the Ducks capitalized 23 points off 16 USC turnovers. USC only had 12. 

Key sequence: With under three minutes to go, Dorsey stepped into big shots with big confidence. As Oregon thrived in the spotlight, USC crumbled. Dorsey's first three-pointer came in with 2:59 left to go and a now 71-65 Oregon lead. USC came down with a three-pointer on their own from sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright, who finished with 15 points. On the Ducks next possession, Bell scored a layup and Boatwright looked to answer again. But Ennis pulled down a huge defensive rebound, pushed the ball up court, and found Dorsey at his spot where he nailed another three to put Oregon up 76-68. The Ducks rode this cushion all the way to the buzzer. 

High flying Ducks: Brooks lead all scores with 21 points. Dorsey had a complete 180 after halftime and found his stroke in the second half. He finished with 19 points, and four-of-eight from downtown. Bell finished with a double-double on 12 points and 14 rebounds. 

Fowl play: Brooks, Dorsey, Bell, and Boucher each had two fouls in the first half, which forced them to play conservatively. Oregon’s 11-point lead mid-way through the first half, slowly diminished away. But Altman had to keep them in game because they were the only ones producing on the offensive end. Brooks fouled out with 3:28 left to go in the game.

Up next: The Ducks head back home to host Utah (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12) at 6 p.m. this Thursday.

Can Oregon bounce back? Preview: No. 5 Oregon at USC


Can Oregon bounce back? Preview: No. 5 Oregon at USC

Yet another epic rematch and tough road test tonight for No. 5 Oregon. The Ducks, coming off their second conference loss to No. 10 UCLA last Thursday, need to put the past behind them if they want to come away with one win on this southern California road trip. Tonight will not be easy. Oregon takes on the USC Trojans in SoCal at 7:30 p.m. Here is what to watch out for: 

The last time these two schools met was back on Saturday, December in Eugene, OR. At the time, the Trojans were ranked No. 22, and the then ranked No. 21 Ducks got their second statement win of that week, 84-61 over the Trojans. But USC was missing a key component to both their offense and defense: sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright.

USC’s record in the Pac-12 conference is 8-4. Their four losses have come from Oregon, Cal, Utah, and Arizona. But more importantly, they only lost to Arizona by six and defeated UCLA two weeks ago at home by eight. The Trojans are on a bit of a hot streak and have some momentum heading into this revenge rematch against the Ducks tonight. 

Both teams are very different from when they first met back in December. 

A quick look at the game:

No. 5 Oregon vs. USC

Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles, Calif. 

When: 7:30 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Records: Ducks (21-4, 10-2), Bruins (21-4, 8-4). 

Last outings: The Ducks failed to pick up a crucial road win at No. 10 UCLA last Thursday, losing to the Bruins 82-79. The Trojans kept Oregon State’s losing streak alive with a 92-66 home win over the Beavers.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (175-68 at Oregon, 585-311 Division I). USC’s Andy Enfield (65-58 at USC, 106-86 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (10.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .390 3PT%), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (14.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg).

Key Trojans: G Shaqquan Aaron, 6-7, R-So., (9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.7 apg), G Elijah Stewart, 6-5, Jr., (13.7 apg, 4.8 ppg), G Jordan McLaughlin, 6-1 Jr., (13.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Bennie Boatwright, 6-10, So., (13.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg), F Chimezie Metu, 6-11 So., (14.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

Notes: Ducks’ Jordan Bell is the only player in the Pac-12 ranked in the top 10 in rebounds (10th), blocks (4th), and steals (9th)…Oregon has held 20-of-25 opponents to under 70 points per game this season…