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Oregon senior forward Arsalan Kazemi's 11 points, 18 rebounds, and four steals couldn't inch the Ducks past Cal.
Gutting, brutal, heart-stopping, ugly; these words all adequately describe Oregon's 48-46 loss to the California Golden Bears -- the eleventh straight for the Ducks against their Bay Area rivals.
Battling tooth and nail with one another all night long, neither the Ducks nor the Golden Bears looked capable of wrenching victory from the jaws of defeat.
If anything, it was just the opposite.
In the first half, both teams couldn't buy a bucket, with Oregon barely outshooting Cal 29.0 to 28.8 to hold a 26-21 advantage at halftime. The shooting woes were even worse for the Ducks in the second half, as the Ducks only managed to hit 27.6 percent of their field goal attempts compared to Cal, who converted on just over 57 percent (57.1) of their shots. Despite their offensive struggles however, the Ducks we given every opportunity to win the game. 11 times Oregon visited the charity stripe in the second half, yet the Ducks found no solace there either as they converted only five free throws.
"We got to the line," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman, who couldn't fault the effort of his team Thursday night. "We just didn't finish enough free throws. I think that was as big a thing as anything."
In the end, it was Cal guard Justin Cobbs who finished the Ducks off, driving a stake through Oregon's heart when he sank a jumper from the left elbow with .7 seconds remaining in the contest.
"They were trying to get the ball to their two best players, (Allen) Crabbe and Justin (Cobbs)," said Singler of the final play of the game. "We were playing great defense and Justin made a tough shot."
Singler's explanation for he and his team's struggles offensively were far less cut and dry, however. In arguably his worst shooting game of his career, Singler finished the game with seven points on 1-of-12 from the field -- including 1-of-7 from three-point distance.
"I wouldn't say they did anything special," said Singler of Cal's approach on defense. "They played good defense, but we just didn't hit shots tonight -- collectively and obviously I didn't hit them. We've got to get better."
The lone bright spot for the Ducks Thursday was the inspirational play of senior forward Arsalan Kazemi. Though things failed to click from an offensive perspective, Kazemi carried the Ducks for much of the game. In 31 minutes of game action, Kazemi chipped in 11 points, 18 rebounds, and four steals in what Altman called an "unbelievable" performance. Yet, as well as Kazemi played, the only thing the senior transfer from Rice could focus on after the game was the loss.
"It was the last game against California and I told the coach that I let him down," said a dejected Kazemi. "I didn't play my best...It really hurts sitting here and not winning this game. It is what it is and I just have to play with that effort and energy every night. It's not supposed to be one game."
Oregon returns to action Saturday evening as they look to avoid being swept by the Bay Area schools this season when they face the Stanford Cardinal (15-11 overall, 6-7 conference). Tip off from Matthew Knight Arena is set for 5:00 p.m. and can be seen live on the Pac-12 Network.
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