Oregon is experiencing a topsy-turvy season and coach Dana Altman knows time is running out.
The Ducks need a strong finish if they expect to crack the NCAA Tournament field and they hope to begin their late-season dash Sunday night when they meet Washington State in Pac-12 play at Pullman, Wash.
Oregon (15-12, 9-7 Pac-12) has dropped its past two games — a 70-63 home loss to then-No. 7 UCLA and a discouraging 72-71 overtime loss at Washington on Wednesday.
The loss to the Huskies was a major blow to the Ducks’ hopes of gaining a top-four seed for the Pac-12 tournament. The top four seeds receive a first-round bye and Oregon entered Saturday’s play in a tie for the fifth seed.
“We’ve got to find a way to win games,” Altman said after the loss in Seattle. “We’ve got to find a way to get in the top four somehow.”
N’Faly Dante recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds against the Huskies for his sixth double-double of the season. He leads Oregon in scoring (13.6 points per game) and rebounding (7.6).
Washington State (12-15, 7-9) has won its last two, both at home. The Cougars beat Washington 56-51 on Feb. 11 and delivered an impressive 80-62 win over Oregon State on Thursday.
WSU made its first eight 3-point attempts in the wire-to-wire triumph over the Beavers. The Cougars finished 14 of 24 from long range and shot 59.6 percent overall, their second-best clip of the season.
“I thought offensively we played our best game,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith said. “We ran our good stuff, we got good looks and we were very unselfish for the most part.”
Big man Mouhamed Gueye scored 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting but didn’t grab a single rebound. Gueye has seven 20-point outings and averages 14.1 points and a team-leading 8.2 rebounds.
“I’m not going to lie. I didn’t even know I went 9-for-9. I was just playing,” Gueye said. “Coach told me, ‘You didn’t miss a shot.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I didn’t grab a rebound either.’ It felt great, though. It always feels good to see the work pay off.”
Gueye scored 19 points earlier this season when the Cougars lost 74-60 to the Ducks in Eugene. Fante scored 22 points for Oregon.
–Field Level Media