The Oregon men’s basketball team (3-2) dropped its second straight game as it fell 68-55 to the Montana Grizzlies (4-1) last night at McArthur Court.
The loss was the Ducks’ first at home this season after starting the year 3-0.
“I feel like we’re a team that’s out of rhythm,” head coach Ernie Kent said.
There was no questioning that last night as Oregon struggled throughout the game with turnovers against the Grizzlies zone defense as it gave the ball up 13 times and committed 25 fouls.
The already beaten-up Duck squad saw limited minutes from senior point guard Tajuan Porter after leaving the game with an injured ankle just three minutes into the game. Porter returned to action, but Kent did not feel he was as effective as he usually is and decided to keep him on the bench for the majority of the game.
“You’ve got to be careful with him,” Kent said, “because he always wants to stay on the floor.”
Senior Joevan Catron and sophomore Michael Dunigan were both in uniform for the Ducks, but neither played because of injury. Catron has been battling with a back injury for the past five or six days, Kent said, while Dunigan is still nursing a tweaked hip muscle.
The lack of post presence showed throughout the first half. Oregon shot just 8-of-24 in the first half, with a majority of the misses coming from the perimeter.
“When you don’t have an inside post presence, you turn into a jump-shooting team,” Kent said.
Sophomore guard Garrett Sim provided a spark off the bench to lead the way for the Ducks in the first half as he scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, which included a deep trey from five feet beyond the arc as the shot clock expired with just over three minutes remaining.
“We wanted to bounce back after that Portland game,” Sim said. “(We’re) just a little
frustrated right now.”
Sim finished the game with 11 points before fouling out with 1:04 remaining in the second half.
Fellow sophomore Teondre Williams finished with a team-high 16 points and five rebounds, while shooting 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Williams has now scored in double figures in each of the Ducks’ first four games and has defined his role as an offensive threat.
“That’s my role,” Williams said. “To get to the basket and make free throws.”
Williams and Kent both used the word “stagnant” to describe Oregon’s offensive woes after shooting 18-of-54 as a team and being outrebounded 33-26.
The Ducks made a 6-0 run midway through the second half, but back-to-back three-pointers by Montana’s Michael Taylor sealed the Grizzlies lead for good.
Junior center Brian Qvale led the way for Montana with a double-double as he scored 15 points, while pulling 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of play. The 6-foot-10, 265-pound Qvale dominated the paint as he shot 7-of-8 from the field.
Senior guard Anthony Johnson had an impressive game for the Grizzlies, leading all scorers with a game-high 20 points. Johnson, a 93 percent free-throw shooter entering the game, continued to make a living from the charity stripe, going 14-of-15 on the night.
The Ducks showed no signs of shaken confidence after the game, though.
“We will get better, I promise you that,” Williams said.
The Ducks will next be in action on Saturday, Nov. 28 as they host Montana State at 7:30 p.m. at McArthur Court.