Oregon's tournament résumé dealt significant blow in 78-64 loss to Cal at home
You typically don’t want to give the NCAA Tournament selection committee ammo to use against you in any kind of hunt for an at-large berth to the madness in March. Oregon now has three such problem spots on its résumé, the latest coming in a 78-64 loss to California at home Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Bears entered the game ranked 147th in the NET rankings and were a win over a woeful Oregon State team removed from a 10-game losing streak. Oregon simply could not afford to lose to the Bears on its home court, let alone fall behind by as many as 18 points like it did Saturday.
The problems began 4:23 into the game. Behind a couple of layups from De’Vion Harmon (one of them a converted and-one), a couple buckets from Quincy Guerrier, and a bucket inside from N’Faly Dante, the Ducks raced out to a 12-5 lead.
Over the course of the next 8:38 of game clock, Cal scored 24 unanswered points. Oregon missed 10 straight shots—six of them 3s—and turned it over four times during the span, allowing the ice-cold offense to bleed into its defense. Oregon couldn’t stop Cal’s two-man action as senior guard Jordan Shepherd got himself cooking and the Ducks sent Cal players to the line for a pair of and-one opportunities.
At the halftime break, Oregon found itself down 38-22. That proved too much to overcome. Oregon looked too flat.
Instead of getting stops in the second half, Oregon merely matched points. Cal shot 47% over the final 20 minutes and lived at the free throw line. Shepherd attacked time and time again, taking 13 foul shots in the final frame and scoring 20 points.
He finished with a career-high 33 on just 15 shots, adding seven boards, four steals, three assists, and a block. Cal shot 52% as a team, made 20 of its 24 attempts from the charity stripe, and won the rebounding battle 36-31.
The closest the Ducks got in the second half was 11, propelled by 12 straight points from guard Will Richardson. But Richardson’s 3-pointer with 7:55 to play—making the score 51-40 and capping a personal 7-0 spurt—was answered on the very next possession by a triple from Cal’s Makale Foreman. Oregon got no closer, and Cal stretched the lead back out to 19 in the game’s closing minutes.
Richardson finished with 22 points (6-12 FG, 9-13 FT) and nine rebounds before fouling out. He had 20 in the second half alone. But as the game slipped away from Oregon in the first half, Richardson was just 1-for-5 from the floor with four turnovers.
Guerrier finished with 15 points, Harmon with 11 on 16 shots. Oregon shot just 38% from the field as a team, missed 22 of its 27 triples, and missed eight shots at the foul line.
For Cal, it’s a feel-good moment in a season that hasn’t gone according to plan. The Bears (11-15, 4-11 Pac-12) secured their first road sweep in Oregon since the 2013-14 season and picked up their first win in Eugene in eight years. They’ll return home to play Colorado next Thursday, with tip-off set for 6:30 p.m. PT.
For Oregon (16-8, 9-4 Pac-12), things get a bit more complicated. The Ducks projected as a 10-seed in Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket, and the résumé now includes three Quad 3 losses and only a 2-4 record in Q1 games. But hope isn’t dashed, not yet anyway.
Oregon has home games against UCLA (14th NET) and USC (29th) left in the regular season, and road games against Arizona (second) and Washington State (42nd). That’s potentially four Quad 1 wins left on the board, depending on what happens with USC sitting right on the cusp. Then there’s the Pac-12 tournament. But Oregon can’t afford any more slip-ups. The margins are razor-thin against the likes of Arizona State and Washington.
The Cougars come to Eugene on Monday for the first of their two meetings with the Ducks, with tip-off set for 6 p.m. PT.