LAS VEGAS — Oregon was looking for a confidence boost after a lackluster loss last week. Beating up on a Division II school should help some, but the Ducks know they need to play better with tougher opponents ahead.
Eric Williams Jr. scored 14 points, De’Vion Harmon added 13 and Oregon opened the Maui Invitational with a 73-49 rout of Chaminade on Monday night.
“I liked the effort,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well the first half and took a few quick 3s that I thought were maybe guys just trying to get it going. But we’re still trying to find our way.”
The Ducks (3-1) were coming off an ugly 81-49 loss to BYU last week. They got off to a fast start against the Division II Silverswords (2-1), had a letdown to end the first half, then raced away into Tuesday’s semifinals.
Oregon swarmed Chaminade all night, setting up layups and 3-pointers in transition — the exact blueprint the Ducks have followed under Altman for years.
“It started with the defense, pressure on defense, which made it easier for our guys,” Harmon said. “We got more run-outs.”
Chaminade is known for pulling off the occasional upset — the big one was taking down No. 1 Virginia in 1982 — and had the Ducks in their sights after trimmed a 14-point lead to four just before halftime.
Oregon’s length and athleticism eventually wore the Silverswords down, taking the upset out of the equation. Raazhel Watkins had 13 points to lead Chaminade, which shot 29% and 4 for 17 from 3.
“Their size did catch up to us in the second half. There’s no doubt about it,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “There was numerous times that we got caught on the wrong side of their bigger guys, which in turn had very easy baskets for them.”
Chaminade plays in the main Maui Invitational bracket every second year and normally has a short flight from Oahu to Maui. The pandemic led to a shift east to Las Vegas after being played in Asheville, North Carolina a year ago.
Las Vegas has been called “the ninth Hawaiian island,” but it’s about 2,700 from the Silverswords’ campus in Honolulu — not exactly close.
The long-distance travel and facing a pack of angry Ducks didn’t figure to be a good combination.
Oregon got off to a bit of a shaky start before hitting Chaminade with a parade of transition 3s. The Ducks used an 18-2 run to go up 21-7 and turned a series of Chaminade possessions into a fight against the shot clock.
The Silverswords have proven to be resilient through the years and showed a bit of grit to get back in it.
They gained confidence at both ends after a few shots started to fall, using a 13-2 run to pull within four. Oregon missed 11 of its final 13 shots and went 4 for 19 from 3 to see its lead trimmed to 29-22 at halftime.
The Ducks got their mojo back in the second half, using an 11-0 run to push the lead to 49-28 and kept their foot on the gas from there.
“Size played a role, but if we played how we played in the first half we probably wouldn’t have let them get on a stretch like that,” Watkins said.
Oregon did what it was supposed to against a Division II school, using its length and athleticism to win in a rout.
Chaminade was overmatched physically against a Power Five school, but showed it can hang at least for stretches with its late first-half run — something that will help when it gets to conference play.
Oregon guard Will Richardson had a tough night shooting, missing all five of his shots, including four 3-pointers.
The senior leader found other ways to contribute, finishing with five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
“I thought in the second half he really did a good job,” Altman said. “Everybody goes through a game or two. We had a tough game against BYU, we all did, and we had some good looks. The ball just didn’t go in. It happens to everybody.”
Oregon will Saint Mary’s in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Chaminade plays Notre Dame on Tuesday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25