Oregon gets gift foul in OT win over Washington State

Howie Stalwick, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Oregon Ducks continue to find ways to win, thanks in part to Washington State's ability to continue to find ways to lose.
E.J. Singler snapped a 77-77 tie by hitting two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in overtime in No. 23 Oregon's 79-77 triumph Saturday night in Pac-12 Conference action at Beasley Coliseum.
Singler was deliberately fouled well away from the basket by Dexter Kernich-Drew. WSU's sophomore guard lost track of the score after teammate Royce Woolridge capped a sensational individual performance by knocking down a 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds to go.
"You can't point fingers," said Woolridge, who scored a career-high 36 points. "It was just a mental mistake."
The Ducks won their third straight game to improve to 21-5 overall and 10-3 in the Pac-12. The first-place Ducks, who had to rally from 10 down at the half to beat WSU 68-61 Jan. 23 in Eugene, trailed by 11 at the half in the rematch with the last-place Cougars (11-15, 2-11).
"It was a great game," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "We were fortunate to win.
"They (the Cougars) played with great energy in the first half. I thought we did in the second half."
Singler scored 20 of his team-high 25 points after halftime. The senior forward scored seven points in the first six minutes of the second half, when Oregon briefly built a 44-43 lead.
Washington State led most of the way. Singler, who set a school record by playing in his 82nd victory, was expansive in his praise of the Cougars.
"They're tough at home," Singler said. "They played a heck of a game.
"They did a good job spreading us out and just attacking us (on offense). We really haven't played anyone that's done that to us, that has really gone five out (away from the basket) like they can, because everyone can shoot 3's on their team."
Woolridge, a sophomore transfer from Kansas, topped his previous career high of 20 points (set Dec. 1 against Portland) by scoring 22 in the first half. He finished 10 for 15 from the field, including 6 for 9 on 3-pointers, and he hit 10 of 11 free throws. All those marks are career highs.
The son of former NBA star Orlando Woolridge came into the game averaging 8.8 points.
"That was just a great individual performance," Altman said. "We were fortunate E.J. started warming up in the second half to kind of offset (Woolridge)."
Woolridge and Mike Ladd are natural wings who have been forced to share point guard duties because three-year starter Reggie Moore was kicked off the team prior to the season for violating team rules.
Ladd missed a second straight game because of a knee injury. Oregon starting point guard Dominic Artis missed his seventh straight game with a foot injury.
"He (Woolridge) knew he needed to step up and make plays, and he did," Singler said. "He had a fabulous night. No one on our team could stop him. Props to him."
The Ducks trailed 38-27 at intermission after struggling against WSU's 2-3 zone defense.
"We weren't really attacking it ... we were just throwing it around the top," Singler said.
The Ducks missed two shots in the final seconds of regulation after WSU's DaVonte Lacy buried a 3-pointer from the left corner with 8.5 seconds remaining.
The Cougars, who have lost six in a row, missed 5 of 6 shots in overtime before an announced crowd of 5,216. WSU has led in the second half of all but four games this season.
"Once again, we're right in the game, give yourselves and opportunity to win and we don't get it done," WSU coach Ken Bone said.
Carlos Emory scored 20 points for Oregon, and Damyean Dotson added 16. Arsalan Kazemi produced eight points, 12 rebounds (six offensive) and two steals in a fine performance.
Brock Motum, with 12 points, was the only Cougar in double figures besides Woolridge.
NOTES: Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said this week he has yet to decide whether to retain Bone next season. Bone, who has drawn considerable criticism from fans, has three years left on a seven-year contract that pays him $850,000 per season. ... Oregon center Tony Woods was ejected midway through the first half after drawing a flagrant foul for flattening Motum. ... The Cougars have lost five in a row against Oregon, and eight of nine. ... WSU has lost eight consecutive overtime games to Oregon since a 1967 victory. ... Former Oregon coach Ernie Kent was part of the TV broadcast team.

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