For a Utah fan, it’s almost cruel how it all ended on Thursday night at the Huntsman Center. Think of Lucy snatching the football from under Charlie Brown at the last minute. Yes, it was that bad.
Damyean Dotson propelled No. 10 Oregon to an improbable 70-68 overtime win at the Huntsman Center, with a steal, a full-court sprint and a dunk — all in 6.5 seconds. When Jordan Loveridge missed a desperation three at the buzzer, the Ducks piled on to each other at halfcourt in front of 13,426 stunned and silent fans.
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It was improbable in the stunning turnaround of fortunes for both teams. The Utes had a chance to win or at the very least take their matchup with Oregon into a second overtime. But Dallin Bachynski caught the inbounds pass, panicked and tried to throw it to Jordan Loveridge.
Dotson stepped in front, and raced to the other basket while Utah could only watch helplessly.
The Ducks — knowing they were in a battle — celebrated unabashed, while the Utes knew they let a huge opportunity slip away.
"There’s little regret, but kudos to them for putting the pressure on us," Bachynski said. "The first option was to go to someone else. We had a little miscommunication and we will learn from it. It was a big game and a good battle. They’re obviously a good team. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the win, so we have to move to the next one."
The irony of it all is that the Utes wouldn’t have been in that position in the first place if it weren’t for Bachynski. The junior center scored 11 points, grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and blocked two shots. He consistently went toe-to-toe with Oregon’s athletic frontcourt all night. But at the end, it goes down as another near-miss for Utah in the Pac-12. Last year, there were wins over Oregon and California. But there were close defeats to Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State. On Thursday night, the Utes proved they can indeed play with the best of the conference. They proved they have the talent and ability to win games over good teams.
Still, they couldn’t actually get the victory when they had the chance.
"We know we can play and compete with everyone in the league," Loveridge said. "Hopefully next time we can make the plays down the stretch. It hurts, of course. But we can’t sit back and think about it."
Loveridge scored a game-high 21 points, and added five rebounds and three assists. Delon Wright scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots.
But Utah went 3 of 19 from 3-point range, 24 of 63 from the field overall, and missed several key wide-open looks down the stretch.
That — as much as Bachynski’s turnover — led to the Utes losing this one and falling to 11-2 on the season. For as well as Utah played defensively, it was sloppy on offense. The Utes turned the ball over 14 times and had just 12 assists. They were outrebounded as well.
"We got a little loose with the ball and didn’t have that same intensity," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I think it was surprising to our guys to see them continue to run with us. I was proud of the way we guarded. They’re an elite team. They’re in the top 10 for a reason."
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