Oregon’s players and coaches were asked all week about what they had lost.
Bol Bol is gone for good with a foot injury and Kenny Wooten’s return date from a broken jaw is unknown. On Saturday, those two losses contributed to one on the court when Oregon State rallied late for a 77-72 win over the Ducks in the Pac-12 opener in front of 11,204 at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks dug a double-digit halftime deficit as their shortcomings in the frontcourt showed while OSU outrebounded Oregon 23-11 and had a similar advantage of 24-12 on points in the paint.
Oregon’s press slowed Oregon State in the second half and brought the Ducks all the way back to take a late lead before the Beavers hit their final six free throws.
The Ducks turned what looked like a blowout loss into a blown lead that left them regretting their early struggles and some late misses. What wasn’t dissected as part of the defeat was the absence of Bol and Wooten, UO’s top two rebounders and shot blockers who also combined for 27.6 points per game.
“We can’t use that as a crutch or our season is down the drain,” UO senior Paul White said. “Nobody wants that so we are not making excuses for ourselves. We feel bad for Kenny and Bol more than we do for ourselves.”
Oregon is down to eight scholarship players, including four freshmen who have played a total of 668 minutes in 14 games.
“We are adjusting on the fly to what we have, but we have to do a better job,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We could have done a better job in the first half with ball movement and defending them in transition and on the boards. We didn’t take care of those things and we have to address that. We have to play better and I think we are capable of doing that.”
Louis King had season highs of 17 points on 6-for-17 shooting and 10 rebounds. He scored 10 points in the second half as the Ducks (9-5, 0-1) outscored Oregon State 47-39.
“I liked the 10 rebounds he got and I thought offensively he did some good things in the second half,” Altman said. “He took a big step. His shooting percentage needs to improve, but that was a productive game."
White added 15 points while Payton Pritchard had 14 and Victor Bailey scored 11.
Bailey put Oregon ahead 72-71 on two free throws with 1:10 remaining. After Zach Reichle made two free throws for Oregon State, Pritchard had a jump shot rim out with 29 seconds left.
Antoine Vernon made two free throws with 19.7 seconds left to put the Beavers (9-4, 1-0) ahead 75-72.
Pritchard brought the ball up court and passed to King, who stepped back to attempt a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining that bounced off the rim. Altman said the play called for King to get the ball, but OSU defended the play well so he would have preferred to have the freshman drive the hoop and look to pass or get to the basket with Oregon still having time to foul Oregon State once again.
Stephen Thompson made two free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining to give OSU its first win at Matthew Knight Arena since 2012 and a road win to open conference play for the first time since 1993.
“Big win for us, tale of two halves,” OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said. “What I loved was in a hostile environment on the road, we finally made some plays down the stretch. Our leadership stepped up and got some stops and we made some big free throws. … It was not a thing of beauty but to erase however long it has been for Oregon State opening league play on the road with a loss is great.”
Tres Tinkle shook off an ankle injury that sent him to the locker room for part of the second half to score 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 6-of-8 on three-pointers.
The Beavers led 38-25 at halftime before Tinkle opened the second half with a three-pointer and Ethan Thompson followed with a basket to give OSU its largest lead at 43-25.
Oregon State led 66-57 on a dunk by Kylor Kelley with 5:44 left. Bailey made a three-pointer for Oregon and then the Ducks’ press forced back-to-back turnovers that led to a three-point play from Pritchard and a bucket from King to cut the lead to 66-65 with 5:08 to play.
“We knew they would come out in the second half and go full-court, so we talked at halftime about our press breaker,” Wayne Tinkle said. “They got a little momentum going and we showed a little panic.”
King put Oregon ahead 67-66 on two free throws with 3:49 left, the first of seven quick lead changes that culminated with Bailey putting Oregon ahead in the final two minutes before the Beavers finished the Ducks off at the foul line.
“The second half we were playing with our back against the wall and we knew we had to fight,” White said. “In the first half, we have got to find a way to get a spark going within us. Going forward, we know what we need to do.”