EUGENE – Not much has come easy for Oregon since the start of the Pac-12 Conference season.
So many games coming down to the final few possessions, and until last week, it was the Ducks making the plays to pull out the win.
That trend has since reversed itself, with Colorado pulling out a 48-47 win Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena to give 19th-ranked Oregon its second straight close loss and third defeat in a row.
Colorado’s Andre Roberson corralled a block by Oregon’s Tony Woods and scored with 24 seconds left, providing the winning points as the Buffaloes took their only lead and finished the game on an 8-0 run.
“We just didn’t get stops down the stretch. It’s really hurt us the last few games,” said Oregon’s E.J. Singler, who had the ball in his hands in the closing seconds but couldn’t get off a clean shot.
The Ducks (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12) struggled to get the ball inside the three-point arc on their final possession and were forced to call a timeout with eight seconds remaining.
Singler had his shot blocked by Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie on a medium-range jumper, with Roberson pulling in the loose ball with 1.1 seconds left. Singler said Dinwiddie hit his hand but didn’t concede that a foul should have been called.
Roberson then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw opportunity, and Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi didn’t have time to get off a last heave before time expired.
Singler and Carlos Emory had 14 points apiece to lead the Ducks, who also got six points and 11 rebounds from Kazemi. Roberson finished with a team-high 10 points and 13 rebounds for Colorado (15-7, 5-5).
The Ducks entered Thursday’s contest with a three-game stretch that saw them compile more turnovers (65) than made field goals (64).
They seemed to put their turnover woes behind them for most of the game. Then the mistakes that have haunted them the past two weeks suddenly appeared, and at the wrong time as the lead steadily slipped away.
Five of the Ducks’ 12 turnovers came in the final five minutes, and Oregon didn’t score after Emory’s dunk with 4:26 left. Singler had six turnovers in all and Emory three, combining for three in the closing minutes.
“We just didn’t execute,” Woods said.
After a 79-66 conference-opening win at Oregon State, the Ducks won six straight games by nine points or fewer. Four were decided by five points or less.
How things have changed.
In the span of three games, the Ducks have gone from sole possession of the conference lead to a three-way tie with Arizona State and UCLA, now a game back of Arizona.
Gone also, now, is a 20-game home winning streak, which included 14 victories this season until Thursday.
“In the course of a week here we’ve given a lot back,” said Oregon coach Dana Altman, whose team lost 76-52 at Stanford on Jan. 30 then two days later saw California score the last 10 points to win 58-54. “It’s the second game in a row we didn’t finish. We’ve got to get our composure back.”
Oregon played its fourth straight game without starting freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who is out with a foot injury. He averaged 10.2 points through Oregon’s first 19 games.
Without shots connecting from others on the outside, Altman said, the floor shrinks. That makes it harder to drive to the basket or pass the ball inside.
“DA spreads the floor. You’ve got to stay on him,” Altman said, adding that he won’t know when Artis will return until he’s cleared by a doctor.
Johnathan Loyd, starting in place of Artis the past four games, struggled on offense Thursday.
Loyd, a junior, had three steals but was scoreless after a 0 for 7 shooting night.