Dana Altman found something to be thankful for following the largest last-minute collapse in Pac-12 men's basketball history.
“We are going to have to bounce back and I’m glad we have two days,” Altman said after Oregon let a nine-point lead get away in the final 51 seconds of regulation before losing 87-84 to UCLA in overtime Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena. “We are going to have to figure out a way to get back up.”
The Ducks (10-5, 0-2) look to avoid opening conference play with three straight home losses when they host USC (9-7, 2-1) at 5 p.m. Sunday.
“We are young and they played their tails off for 35 minutes and did not get it done,” Altman said. “They are down.”
The Ducks have lost leading scorer and rebounder Bol Bol for the season with a broken foot and starting forward Kenny Wooten is expected to miss a few more weeks with a broken jaw. Those absences have led to a couple of late losses on the court as Oregon began Pac-12 play with consecutive defeats for the first time in eight years.
Oregon led Oregon State 72-71 with 1:10 to play Saturday before giving up the final six points The Ducks led UCLA for the final time at 84-82 with 1:40 left to play before allowing the final five points.
However, those two losses as home favorites took much different turns along the way.
The Ducks trailed OSU by 18 points in the second half before rallying to take a lead that they let get away at the end. Oregon had a 17-point lead over the Bruins with 6:53 to play and led by 13 with 2:31 on the clock before UCLA completed the sixth-largest comeback in the final minute of an NCAA game.
“We’ve got to learn from our mistakes,” Altman said. “You want to emphasize the hustle and energy we played with. They did a good job making plays for each other. Silly turnovers hurt us and 10 missed free throws.”
Altman also reflected back on the end of the first half when UO scored 12 straight points to take a 39-28 lead before UCLA’s Prince Ali was fouled with nine seconds left. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but an offensive rebound allowed Kris Wilkes to hit a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“All the focus is on the end of the game, but at the end of the half we did not get a defensive rebound and those second-chance points really hurt us,” Altman said.
As for the end of regulation, UCLA scored 21 points on its final seven possessions while the Ducks had eight points on six possessions.
“With seven minutes to go, I think the rebound differential was seven or eight and it ended up at 14,” said Altman, whose Ducks were outrebounded 51-37. “In the last six or seven minutes, they pounded us on the boards and hit some threes.”
Oregon scored the first four points of overtime to take a 84-80 lead before going scoreless on their final five possessions while missing six shots. UCLA scored on four of its final five possessions for seven points.
“Up four and again, we needed to get some stops,” Altman said. “They had some easy penetration there and we do not have rim protectors now so they got to the rim on us a couple times.”
The storyline for first 30-plus minutes of the game was Oregon’s defense as the Ducks had 13 steals - including five from Ehab Amin and four from Paul White - while forcing 23 turnovers, the most by a UO opponent this season.
“What kept us in it was being active and getting them to make some mistakes,” Altman said. “Our activity was really good.”
That was all forgotten when Oregon was outscored 39-19 in the final 11:53 of regulation and overtime.
“I hope the guys can realize they played really good for 35 minutes,” Altman said. “Now we have to address what we didn’t do down the stretch.”