EUGENE, Ore. — On the first play, Terrell Brown Jr. intercepted a pass and after another defensive stop, the Washington men’s basketball team collected an offensive rebound for a putback and an early 2-0 lead.
And that just about details all the Husky highlights on a miserable Sunday night in which they were beaten by Oregon in almost every way possible during a historic 84-56 drubbing at Matthew Knight Arena.
In its second game without coach Mike Hopkins, who is in COVID-19 protocols, nothing went right for UW.
All the momentum and goodwill Washington built during a three-game winning streak dissipated amid a disastrous opening 20 minutes that included an array of mistakes, pratfalls and blunders.
“They hit a lot of shots and they ran their stuff really well,” Brown said. “We just didn’t come out with the right energy and dug ourselves in a big hole. Like I said, they hit shots that gave them momentum from the crowd and we didn’t make shots.
“Mostly, we just didn’t come out with the right energy and effort. We knew they’re a good team and one of the hottest teams in the country. We should have locked in more.”
Inexplicably, Jamal Bey, Cole Bajema and Brown mistakenly stepped out of bounds in the same area of the court without any provocation for three of Washington’s 23 season-high turnovers.
Jackson Grant hurried a three-pointer that missed everything and landed on the baseline, which was one of the Huskies’ errant perimeter shots in a game in which they missed 16 of 20 from long range.
And that vaunted UW defense that allowed an average of 63.7 points in the past three games didn’t hold up against an Oregon onslaught that scored at will.
The Ducks connected on 9 of their first 13 three-pointers and shot 54.2% from the field.
“Their pressure and their physicality is the reason why we looked so unfamiliar,” said acting head coach Will Conroy. “That was the first time we’ve seen that in a little bit and it put us on our heels. We turned the ball over. We started our offense so far out and I’ll take the blame for that.”
Washington outscored Oregon 43-36 in the second half, but for practical purposes, this game was decided in the opening minutes.
Before the first media timeout, UW committed two turnovers and missed 5 of 6 field-goal attempts while trailing 8-2.
After Oregon center Franck Kepnang hammered a dunk for a 17-6 Ducks lead, Conroy called a timeout in an attempt to break UO’s momentum. At that point, UW had missed 9 of 11 shots and was 0 for 5 on three-pointers.
Conroy rotated nine players in the first half. The Huskies resorted to a full-court press and tried trapping the Ducks on the corners and sidelines to jump-start their dormant offense.
But nothing worked.
“When you get down you just try to find something that can spark them, whether it’s trapping, whether it’s pressing,” Conroy said. “Just something to try to get your team going. But I think our offense bothered our defense. When you can’t score, you get frustrated. And when you have competitive guys, they try to do it on their own.”
During the decisive first half, Washington went 8 minutes and 22 seconds between field goals. Meanwhile, Oregon used a 27-2 run to stretch a 13-6 lead to 40-8 before Brown’s layup with 4:15 left in the first half.
“A lot of missed communication,” Brown said. “We let little things turn into big things.”
Oregon’s lead swelled to 48-13 at halftime in an abysmal offensive display for the Huskies.
In the first half, Washington, which had more turnovers (14) than points, converted just 4 of 27 field goals (14.8%), 1 of 12 three-pointers and committed 14 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Ducks shot 65.5% from the floor, including 8 of 12 three-pointers (66.7%) and tallied eight turnovers.
The 13 points were the fewest for Washington in a half since scoring 17 in the second half of a 74-53 loss to UCLA on Dec. 31, 2017.
And the 26-point defeat was most lopsided loss for UW against Oregon, exceeding the 65-40 beatdown the Ducks handed the Huskies on Feb. 8, 2018.
“This is one of those games that you store in your back pocket and you remember what it felt like,” Conroy said. “When you get a chance to play them again, you remember what that felt like. I don’t think we’ll have to ramp it up when we play these guys again.”
Oregon led by 38 points (59-21) with 16:13 remaining when Washington began to find a modicum of offensive success with a lineup that included backup center Riley Sorn.
Still, the Huskies never got closer than 24 points the rest of way while dropping their sixth straight game against the Ducks.
“There were positives in the second half,” Conroy said. “There wasn’t fracture. The team stayed together, even in the locker room. When guys fell on the floor, everyone sprinted over to pick that man up. The huddles were tight and guys stood up, clapped and supported each other when someone came off the court. That kind of stuff is a testament to your culture. Usually that stuff wins over.”
Brown finished with 14 points — seven fewer than his Pac-12-leading scoring average — on 3-for-16 field-goal shooting and had six turnovers. Emmitt Matthews Jr. tallied 12 points and Nate Roberts collected eight rebounds for Washington, which fell to 9-8 overall and 4-3 in the Pac-12.
Oregon (12-6, 5-2) won its sixth straight game and received a game-high 21 points from Will Richardson while Jacob Young and Quincy Guerrier each had 12.
Sunday night’s loss aside, the Huskies went home pleased with the 1-1 split on this trip that began with Thursday’s 82-72 win at Oregon State.
“We split and that’s what we came down here to do,” Brown said. “It’s a rivalry game and we want to be greedy and take two on the road, but the good thing about basketball is we’re back at it Thursday against Colorado and we’ll see these guys again at the end of the season at our place.”
Conroy added: “If you can get two, you’re tremendous. But if you get a split, you kind of did your job. Every road trip in this league is very hard. Oregon State is a hard place to win. These guys beat Oregon State at the buzzer.
“It’s a hard league to win on the road so now we got to go home and protect our court and get a chance at these guys again down the line.”