EUGENE — Oregon’s NCAA Tournament hopes, which got a massive boost amid 10 wins in 11 games, took what will likely be a fatal blow at the hands of hapless Cal.
The Ducks were handed an albatross of epic proportions by a Golden Bears team they had beaten nine straight times and that only snapped a 10-game losing streak on Wednesday against a dreadful and undermanned Oregon State.
A 24-0 Cal run in the first half, during which Oregon missed 10 shots from the field and committed four turnovers over 8:38, created an insurmountable hole for the Ducks, who didn’t make a shot from the floor in the first 8:21 of the second half either.
Will Richardson had 22 points and nine rebounds but he Quincy Guerrier (15 points, four rebounds) were the only players with meaningful contributions for Oregon in a 78-64 disastrous loss to Cal Saturday afternoon at a stunned at Matthew Knight Arena.
“It was a flat effort,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We came out and gave them easy baskets to start the game. They got rolling and we could never get it stopped. Then on the offensive end our ball movement wasn’t good. We missed some open shots, maybe tightened up a little bit. Didn’t shoot well from the free throw line; the free throw line could’ve kept us in the game.
“We didn’t do required to stay in the game. We didn’t get stops. They beat us on the boards. We didn’t do anything to give ourself an opportunity to win the game.”
It snapped a four-game win streak for the Ducks (16-8, 9-4 Pac-12), who suffered their third quadrant 3 loss of the season, all at home, and their worst defeat in terms of NET (147) since Nov. 26, 2018 against Texas Southern (205).
Oregon shot just 18.5% (5 of 27) from behind the arc, including 1 for 13 in the first half, to get behind 38-22 at the break.
Jordan Shepherd has 33 points and seven rebounds for the Golden Bears (11-15, 4-11), who got their first since at Oregon was Jan. 9, 2014 (96-83).
“They did everything necessary to win the game and we sure didn’t,” Altman said. “Guys know, that’s a bad loss — and I don’t want to take anything from Cal saying that because they played awfully hard and awfully well and they played with tremendous energy but that wasn’t a good performance on our part.”
Even with four Quadrant 1 games remaining in the regular season, Oregon’s postseason resume no longer compares favorably with other teams vying for at-large berths.
The only teams in the NET top 60 with three losses in Quadrants 3 and 4 combined entering Saturday were Washington State, Utah State and Chattanooga. ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi, who had Oregon comfortably in the 68-team field before the game, doesn’t have any of those other teams even among those on the bubble, though Chattanooga may earn the SoCon’s automatic bid.
The Ducks, who are tied with USC for third in the Pac-12, may need to win the conference tournament next month in Las Vegas to earn a spot in the Big Dance.
The Oregonian/OregonLive will update this story.