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Oregon got exactly what it needed Monday night — a resounding win led by a potent offense and star guard Will Richardson.
In their first home game in more than two weeks, the Ducks routed Montana 87-47 in a nonconference basketball game at Matthew Knight Arena, a victory that followed a stretch where they had lost three of four games in convincing fashion.
"It's been a long two weeks and the guys have really struggled through it and it hasn't been easy on us," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "It was good to get some energy, make some shots."
Richardson scored 18 to lead the Ducks, matching his point total from the previous four games combined. He was 7-for-10 from the field with four 3-pointers.
Three others scored in double figures for Oregon (4-3), which had lost three of its last four games. In those three defeats the Ducks scored 49 twice and 50 once.
They nearly had that many at halftime against Montana (4-3), even if the opening minute had a here-we-go-again vibe to it when the Grizzlies opened with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Ducks opened with back-to-back misses.
But then Richardson made a pull-up jumper, De’Vion Harmon made a basket just as the shot clock was expiring and suddenly Oregon couldn’t miss as it made 12 straight shots over the next 10 minutes to take a 34-17 lead at the 8:52 mark of the first half.
Included in that stretch were three 3-pointers by Richardson, who had been 0-for-5 from deep in the previous four games.
Richardson and Harmon both scored 11 in the first half, which ended with the Ducks up 46-24 and shooting 63% from the field.
Oregon finished shooting 66% from the field in the game. Harmon had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, N’Faly Dante had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, Jacob Young had 10 on 4-of-7 shooting and every player who got on the court scored for Oregon.
"It was just a matter of time," Young said. "I knew it was going to come. ... We just needed to get back and find our core."
The only area the Ducks struggled to convert shots was from the free-throw line where they were 16-for-26.
Montana, after making those first two 3-pointers to lead 6-0, made only four more field goals the rest of the first half and shot 26.1% for the game.
"We needed this," Altman said. "We absolutely needed something positive, something in the right direction. We got that. Now we need to do the same thing tomorrow in practice. We need to do the same thing Wednesday night (against UC Riverside) and keep moving forward. That's our challenge and we've got a tremendous amount of work ahead of us."
Dante returns to starting lineup
Junior center N’Faly Dante’s made his return to the starting lineup Monday, almost a full year since suffering a season-ending left knee injury that needed reconstructive surgery.
Dante had seen limited action coming off the bench the last four games and was averaging 5.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13 minutes.
Along with his 11 points, Dante had seven rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes against the Grizzlies, numbers that more closely resemble his production from a year ago when he started the first six games before getting hurt against San Francisco on Dec. 17 in what was the sixth game of the season.
He was averaging 8.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks when got hurt and was coming off his second-straight double-double — a 12-point, 10-rebound performance in a win against Washington in Seattle on Dec. 12.
Altman said Dante is being limited in the number of minutes he plays as they ease him back to full strength.
“It’ll be a slow process," Altman said. "I’m not sure the exact time frame, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’ll be really conservative. We won’t let him get fatigued. ... We’ll gradually move him to 20 (minutes), but I think it will be a while before we get him over 20."
Ducks dominate on the boards
There’s winning the rebounding battle and then there’s what the Ducks did to the Grizzlies.
Led by Dante and Eric Williams Jr. getting seven rebounds each, Oregon outrebounded the Grizzlies 41-15.
Jacob Young also had six rebounds and Nate Bittle had five in just 10 minutes of playing time.
Oregon, which struggled to grab offensive rebounds the last two weeks, didn’t have many opportunities Monday as the Ducks only missed 16 shots. They got rebounds on six of those misses and turned them into five second-chance points.
Follow Chris Hansen on Twitter @chansen_RG or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more sports coverage, visit registerguard.com. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.
Oregon vs. UC Riverside
7 p.m. Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena. TV: Pac-12 Oregon. Radio: KUJZ-FM (95.3).
This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon rolls Montana as Ducks appear to get back on track