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Paul Danzer On College Hoops: Ducks not getting better, Altman laments after road loss

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon State's Zach Reichle signals '3' to the crowd after hitting a 3-pointer in the Beavers' 63-53 win at home over Oregon on Saturday night.

CORVALLIS — Oregon State found its shooting touch in the second half on Saturday as it surged to its third consecutive men's basketball win over rival Oregon.

But it was the Beavers' defense that took over the game in their 63-53 win in revved-up Gill Coliseum.

The Ducks led by 10 early in the second half, then went almost nine minutes between baskets as the game flipped.

The result knocked the 14th-ranked Ducks (18-6) out of the top spot in the Pac-12 standings. At 7-4, Oregon is second in a muddled conference race, with first-place Colorado (8-3) coming to Eugene on Thursday.

Oregon State (14-9) remained 11th in the conference at 4-7. But the Beavers own wins over the top three teams in the standings. Oregon State plays four of its final seven at home, with Utah visiting Gill at 6 p.m. Thursday.

"Super proud of the guys," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "It wasn't a work of art, but I was really impressed with our toughness defensively and on the glass, especially the last 10 minutes. Our guys showed great character. Second half, we just dug in."

The Ducks led 40-30 when Payton Pritchard scored in the paint with 17:21 left in the game. Their next basket came 2:31 later, a Chris Duarte transition basket that put Oregon up eight.

But it took 8:44 for the Ducks to score again. Meanwhile, the Beavers took the attack to the Ducks. And by attacking the basket, their shooting percentage soared. Oregon State shot 54.5% in the second half after shooting 38% in the first 20 minutes. After going 3 of 12 on 3-pointers in the first half, the Beavers were 2 of 6 in the second half and 10 of 16 inside the arc.

With the Ducks lacking inside presence — Francis Okoro missed the game to attend his father's funeral, N'Faly Dante remained out with an injury and Chandler Lawson tweaked his knee after played only six minutes in the second half — the Beavers were smart to attack the rim.

To say Oregon coach Dana Altman was disappointed in his team's defensive effort is a sizable understatement.

"We had a bad stretch there. They scored seven goals (in a row) right at the bucket. Our reaction was really bad," Altman said.

Ethan Thompson led the charge for the Beavers, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the second half while taking on primary defensive chores against the Ducks' Payton Pritchard. Pritchard scored a game-high 16 points but shot only 7 for 21. He was 1 for 8 on 3-pointers, his lone make coming after the game was decided. And only three of his nine assists came after halftime as the Ducks scored only 21 points and did not shoot a free throw in the last 19 minutes.

Kylor Kelley, the leading shot-blocker in the Pac-12, had two on Saturday. But the presence of Kelley turned Pritchard and the Ducks passive in terms of attacking the rim.

"The way Ethan guarded tonight was unbelievable. All of the screens they set for Payton, he just made up his mind he wasn't going to give him anything easy," Wayne Tinkle said. "And Kylor did a nice job of protecting the rim. Really proud of what Ethan did defensively. He was a warrior. He didn't come out the second half." 

Kelley finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Tres Tinkle scored nine of his 13 points in the second half.

Zach Reichle, who finished with 11 points, hit three momentum building baskets — a 3-pointer to cut the 10-point deficit to seven, a dunk that pumped up the crowd during the Beavers' rally, and a dagger second-chance 3-pointer that put OSU up five with 1:17 left. 

Altman pointed to that shot — and the Beavers' 13 second-chance points on the night — as killers for his Ducks, who had similar problems in a second-half collapse at Stanford a week earlier.

Chris Duarte (11 points, four rebounds, two steals) had moments at both ends of the floor when he looked ready to help the Ducks out of their funk. But he rarely got the ball as the game moved down the stretch.

Oregon State's game plan and intensity in taking away Pritchard's penetration had a lot to do with Oregon's rough second half. The Ducks often found themselves working with a short shot clock and settling for forced shots.

Altman, as he has all season, took the blame for the offensive woes.

"Too much dribbling. Our ball movement's not good enough. And our awareness of the shot clock was another problem," Altman said.

The lack of a scoring option inside was evident for the Ducks, who will need to find one or two if they are to contend for a conference title and more this season.

Pritchard said he and his teammates all need to be better finishers around the basket.

"We've got to get better inside at finishing," Pritchard said. "Guards, bigs. We've just got to be more dominant in there and I think our shooting will come. We've got to get in the paint more."

The picture isn't pretty for Oregon right now. But with five of the Ducks' last seven games at Matthew Knight Arena, they still have an opportunity in a convoluted conference race.

After losing in Corvallis last season, the Ducks were pretty much out of the NCAA Tournament picture. That team lost its next two games, then won 10 in a row to reach the Sweet 16.

"We've been here before," a disappointed Pritchard said. "Last year, obviously, we were way worse. We've just got to regroup and go on a run."

Altman, too, pointed to the favorable schedule. But the Ducks coach didn't sound confident, or pleased, about the state of his team.

"It's Feb. 8. We just aren't making the progress we need to make, and that's on me," Altman said. "We're not playing as well as we should. We're not competing like we should. That's our job as coaches to get our guys to compete. I don't like what we're doing."

The coach doesn't see his team regressing. But he isn't seeing progress, either.

"People are getting better," Altman said, "and we're not."

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