EUGENE, Ore. — Too many turnovers prevented Colorado from winning at Oregon a year ago. The Ducks figured there was little reason to deviate from that blueprint.
Colorado has been committing turnovers at the least frequent rate in head coach Tad Boyle’s 11 seasons in Boulder, but that went out the window Thursday night at Oregon. Taking advantage of a glut of Buffaloes’ miscues and giveaways, the Ducks took control in the second half to hand CU a 60-56 defeat in a Pac-12 Conference battle at Knight Arena.
The loss gave CU back-to-back defeats for the first time this season and all but ended the Buffs’ already-thin chances at making a run at the Pac-12 regular season title.
CU finished with 17 turnovers, the Buffs’ second-highest total of the season and their most since recording 14 in a win against Northern Colorado on Dec. 14. The giveaways allowed Oregon to post a 22-15 edge in points off turnovers.
“This is not a real difficult one to dissect as a coach,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Seventeen (turnovers). We wanted to keep it to 11 or less and that’s hard to do sometimes against Oregon. But our inability to pass and catch, to come meet passes, was pathetic. By some veteran players. It’s not like we had a bunch of freshmen out there. Our inability to take care of the ball, and our inability to guard the ball in the second half (was the difference).”
CU led 30-25 at halftime and extended the lead to seven points on a steal and breakaway dunk by McKinley Wright IV immediately after the break. The Buffs, however, couldn’t protect the ball, committing 11 turnovers in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
During that stretch of futility, Oregon reeled off a 9-0 run to turn a four-point CU lead into a 48-43 lead for the Ducks.
CU’s defense tightened the rest of the way and the Buffs had their chances, tying the game at 53-53 with 2 minutes, 39 seconds on a free throw from D’Shawn Schwartz. After two free throws from Oregon’s Chandler Lawson, Schwartz had an open look for a potential go-ahead 3-pointer that was off the mark. Oregon junior Will Richardson scored the next four points to give Oregon a 59-53 lead with 33.2 seconds left.
“With all that being said, we still had a chance,” Boyle said. “We still had a chance. Down two, great look from three, and they come down and we can’t stop them. Their players down the stretch made plays. Our players down the stretch didn’t make plays. Sometimes it comes down to that.”
A 3-pointer from Schwartz got CU within three points with 25.9 seconds left, but Richardson added another free throw to push Oregon’s lead to four points with 20.8 seconds remaining. The Buffs heaved up a couple threes in the waning moments but couldn’t produce with a dramatic finish.
Schwartz posted his third double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while senior Jeriah Horne recorded 11 points and seven rebounds. CU finished 6-for-27 on 3-pointers and has gone 9-for-42 (.214) from long range in the past two games.
“I think that’s one of the crucial things in this game. We got a little bit tight in the second half,” Schwartz said. “We didn’t play as aggressive. We were playing on our heels and kept turning the ball over.”
What went right: The Buffs enjoyed their best rebounding performance in weeks, outrebounding the Ducks 43-29.
What went wrong: CU was just 6-for-27 on 3-pointers and allowed Oregon to shoot 50 percent in the second half. The Buffs’ 17 turnovers was their second-highest total of the season.
Star of the game: D’Shwan Schwartz. The senior from Colorado Springs posted his third double-double of the season (and his career) with 16 points and 11 rebounds, though he also shared the team lead with four turnovers.
What’s next: The Buffs will attempt to salvage a split of their trip through Oregon on Saturday night against Oregon State (6 p.m., ESPNU).
Oregon 60, Colorado 56
COLORADO (16-7, 10-6 Pac-12)
Battey 0-5 2-2 2, Walton 1-5 4-4 6, Parquet 2-5 0-0 6, Wright 5-10 0-0 10, Schwartz 6-13 2-3 16, Horne 5-9 0-0 11, Daniels 0-7 0-0 0, da Silva 1-2 0-0 2, Barthelemy 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 21-61 8-9 56.
OREGON (13-4, 8-3)
Lawson 1-3 5-7 7, Omoruyi 5-14 1-1 13, Duarte 8-13 1-3 18, Richardson 4-10 3-4 11, Figueroa 3-9 0-0 7, Kepnang 2-3 0-0 4, Hardy 0-1 0-0 0, Terry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 10-15 60.
Halftime — Colorado 30-25. 3-point goals — Colorado 6-27 (Parquet 2-4, Schwartz 2-6, Barthelemy 1-3, Horne 1-4, Wright 0-3, Daniels 0-7), Oregon 4-17 (Omoruyi 2-5, Duarte 1-4, Figueroa 1-6, Richardson 0-2). Fouled out — Omoruyi. Rebounds — Colorado 43 (Schwartz 11), Oregon 29 (Duarte 7). Assists — Colorado 8 (Wright, Horne 2), Oregon 5 (Duarte 2). Total fouls — Colorado 16, Oregon 12.