Dana Altman left it to himself to explain one of the more unexplainable losses of his career.
Oregon watched a 17-point lead get away in the final seven minutes of regulation before UCLA scored the final seven points in overtime to get out of Matthew Knight Arena with a 87-84 win over Oregon in front of a crowd of 10,106 that included some of the school’s biggest athletic boosters and high-profile coaches sitting courtside.
The Bruins rallied from nine points down in the final 51 seconds, which according to ESPN is the largest deficit ever overcome in the final minute of a Pac-12 game.
“No easy way to spin that one, it was a gut punch,” Altman said. “The last seven minutes we did not rebound the ball and gave up some uncontested threes that allowed them back in it and a couple bad turnovers.”
Altman did not bring any players out with him for postgame interviews, a rarity for a home game.
“I wish I could have helped them more, I should have done a better job,” the coach added. “Obviously that hurts them, they are crushed.”
The Ducks took a 72-59 lead when Louis King got an open three-pointer with 2:26 left to play.
UCLA scored three points on each of its next six possessions before scoring three points in the final three seconds to force overtime.
Prince Ali, Chris Smith and Jules Bernard hit consecutive three-pointers for UCLA, but the Ducks still led 76-68 after Payton Pritchard made two free throws with 44.5 seconds remaining in regulation. Jaylen Hands hit a three-pointer and Pritchard committed a turnover in the backcourt before Ehab Amin fouled Hands, who made three free throws to get the Bruins within 76-74 with 32.8 seconds left.
“We handled that about as poorly as we possibly could have,” Altman said. “In (Amin’s) defense, he gave up a three before that and I told him to get out on the three-point shooters and he fouled the next time. Can’t do that, you have to make them hit a tough shot.”
Victor Bailey made two free throws for Oregon with 20.5 seconds left before Ali rebounded a missed shot and made a three-pointer from the corner with 3.8 seconds to play. Pritchard was fouled and made two free throws to put the Ducks up 80-77 with 3.3 on the clock.
The Bruins got the ball into Hands and Altman chose to foul him with 2.6 seconds remaining to avoid a potential game-tying three-pointer. Hands made the first attempt and intentionally missed the second, but Moses Brown tipped the ball away from Paul White and Smith picked it up for a layup while being fouled to tie the game.
“I’ve never had an ending like that with a three-point lead when you foul them,” Altman said.
It could have been worse, but Smith missed the free throw and Oregon was fortunate to get overtime.
Bailey hit a shot and Will Richardson made two free throws to put UO ahead 84-80 with 3:02 remaining, but the Ducks did not score again while missing their final seven shots from the field.
Ali — who led the Bruins with 22 points — made two free throws and then drove for a basket to tie the game with 1:35 on the clock. Hands hit a jumper that put UCLA ahead 86-84 with 47.3 seconds left before Pritchard missed a three-pointer with 18 seconds left to play.
Brown made one of two free throws for UCLA before King missed a three-pointer in the final seconds that sent the Bruins (10-6) off celebrating a 3-0 start in conference play.
Oregon (9-6) dropped its first two conference games for the first time since Altman’s first season in 2011. The losses to Oregon State and UCLA both came at home when the Ducks were favored on the betting lines.
King had his best game with 22 points on 9-for-18 shooting, including four three-pointers, to go with 10 rebounds. Bailey added 20 points and White had 16 as Oregon shot 51.5 percent from the field while building a 39-32 halftime lead before shooting 39.4 percent in the second half.
UCLA had a 51-37 rebounding advantage to offset 23 turnovers that included 13 steals for Oregon.
“I thought we played well and then we didn’t finish it,” Altman said.