Oregon suffered one of its worst losses of the Dana Altman era, sending the No. 21 Ducks into flux for the second consecutive season.
N’Faly Dante had 20 points and nine rebounds for Oregon in a 69-56 loss to UC Irvine on Friday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
It was the largest margin of defeat in a home conference game for UO since Dec. 18, 2011 against Virginia. However, while UC Irvine is one of the Big West’s all-time top 150 teams and an NCAA Tournament contender, the wire-to-wire nature of the Anteaters’ winning streak and the Ducks’ putrid shooting performance made matters worse.
“We won in every aspect of the game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Toughness, strength. We’ve had a lot of practices like that. I was scared at some point in the season but they were aggressive from the start; we stood up and down. The late scores, the second-chance points, the first half absolutely killed us. …
“Weak mental effort. We didn’t compete. I wish I had something more upright, but I’m so sad. The boys are disappointed. I’m desperate. He was punched right from the start.”
Even if UC Irvine hangs a Quadrant 3 game on Oregon’s resume come Selection Sunday, UO’s worst home loss on paper since a Nov. 26, 2018 loss to Texas Southern.
DJ Davis had 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field, 6-of-14 from three, and 2-for-2 at the free throw line for UC Irvine, which won its first regular season win over a Top 25 team since 2001.
Davis helped the Anteaters build an early lead, then Dante scored the first five points of a 10-1 run to give Oregon an 18-17 lead with 6:11 left. Oregon led only as UC Irvine closed the half on an 18-4 run to take a 35-22 lead at halftime and never looked back.
The Colts led by at least 20 points in the second half when the Ducks were able to lead. Oregon was 1 for the first 18 from behind the arc, including three straight threes to close out a disappointing showing from long range.
Nate Bittle was the only other player in double figures for Oregon with 10 points and six rebounds, four points, four rebounds and four rebounds from Will Richardson (1 for 6 from the field) and Quincy Guerrier (0 for 0). 5 field goals).
“I’m sure Will was (really) very upset with the performance,” Altman said. I’m sure, Quincy. It was a team thing, but I expect more from people with their experience. Dante did some good things fighting back but the turnovers and missed penalties took him away from the game. … The eight kids who played a lot, Dante’s effort was great, but they just took us away.
Oregon had 15 turnovers to lead UC Irvine to 25 points, its third straight win in the all-time series and first since Nov. 29, 1982, when a six-game losing streak was snapped by UO.
“Give credit to the guys in our locker room, they came in and believed they could compete and it’s hard to generate all this time, but we have a tradition of winning,” UC Irvine coach Russell Turner said. I know that. Give them credit for taking this game, it was a big thing for us to come in here and play. It’s a big opportunity for us to play a team of their quality. We don’t take this for granted.