Despite solid performance from their three stars — Matthew Bryan-Amaning had 21 points, Justin Holiday 16 and Isaiah Thomas 13 — Washington was no match for Oregon's balanced offensive attack.
EUGENE, Ore. — To understand how far the Huskies have fallen in the past week, you have to look past the Pac-10 standings where they’ve stumbled out of first and dropped to third in the conference race behind Arizona and UCLA.
You have to go beyond Washington’s three-game losing streak, its longest of the season, because the consecutive defeats do not fully reflect the magnitude of the problems.
To truly comprehend everything that’s gone wrong recently, you had to watch the Oregon players dance on the big green “O” at Matthew Knight Arena following 20th-ranked Washington’s 81-76 defeat Saturday.
And you had to listen to UW coach Lorenzo Romar attempt to explain yet another confusing upset on the road.
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“We came out and competed,” he said. “We were not lethargic. We came out and played a lot harder.”
The team picked to win the Pac-10 Conference and make a deep push in the NCAA tournament is now being complimented for doing the most basic tasks such as competing and playing hard.
But then, that’s where the Huskies are these days.
“The last three games we didn’t have that,” senior co-captain Justin Holiday said. “(We had) that in the beginning (of the season) and that’s why we won a lot of games.
“But now we have to put everything together. Have the effort. Have the energy. Get the stops and play smart on offense. That’s what it comes down to.”
Admittedly, the Huskies haven’t played a complete game since they destroyed California 92-71 and knocked off Arizona 85-68 two weeks ago.
Something happened to Washington after the victory over the Wildcats that now threatens to ruin a season that was supposed to be sweet if not elite.
“I just don’t think we’re doing as well as we did in the past on the defensive end,” Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. “In the past, when you hear Washington basketball, you think of defense first and it kind of scares teams.
“And now teams are looking forward to playing us.”
Oregon certainly wasn’t intimidated by Washington. In fact, the Ducks did just about anything they wanted offensively.
Behind a dominant performance from its frontcourt, Oregon controlled the tempo and led for most of the game.
Ducks senior forward Joevan Catron finished with a team-best 20 points and nine rebounds, sophomore forward E.J. Singler had 16 points and junior forward Tyrone Nared added 14.
Oregon, which improved to 12-11 and 5-6, also received 12 points from reserve guard Jay-R Strowbridge.
The Huskies (15-7, 7-4) countered with balanced scoring in which four players scored in double figures.
Bryan-Amaning had a game-high 21 points and Holiday 16. Isaiah Thomas added 13 points to go along with his six assists and five rebounds while freshman Terrence Ross chipped in 12 points.
Washington converted half of its field goals and converted 11 of 27 three-pointers, but the Huskies were undone by 15 turnovers that resulted in 26 points.
“That’s a lot of points,” Romar said. “You cut down a little bit. We don’t have to have a stellar performance, just cut those down to what we normally do we give ourselves a better chance.”
Despite UW’s miscues, the game wasn’t decided until the final minute.
The Huskies trailed by two points (76-74) with 40 seconds left when Thomas attempted a steal, but drew a foul and sent Singler to the line. He sank both free throws with 25.7 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, UW guard Venoy Overton drove the length of the court and knifed through the Ducks defense for a layup.
The Huskies trailed by just two points again before fouling Singler, who sank two more free throws.
Trailing 80-76, Overton tried another layup, but it deflected off the glass in the final 10 seconds and the 11,925 at Matt Arena exploded in cheers.
The Huskies no longer control their fate in the Pac-10 race, which is an unusual feeling for a team that won seven of its first eight conference games.
“It’s very surprising,” Thomas said. “Nobody in our locker room thought we’d be in this position.”
Romar said it’s too early to panic and recalled the Huskies were in a similar spot in the 2005-06 season and the ’09-10 season before rebounding and finishing in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16.
“We have a team that’s good enough to bounce back,” he said. “The last five out of seven games in conference are at home. I think we played the most difficult portion of our schedule at this point.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
Percentages: FG .508, FT .455. Three-point goals: 11-27, .407 (Holiday 4-6, Ross 4-9, Wilcox 1-3, Suggs 1-4, Thomas 1-5). Team rebounds: 0. Blocked shots: 5 (Holiday 3, Ross, Bryan-Amaning). Turnovers: 15 (Overton 4, Holiday 3, Thomas 2, Suggs 2, Bryan-Amaning 2, Gant, N’Diaye). Steals: 2 (Ross, Bryan-Amaning). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .452, FT .826. Three-point goals: 6-21, .286 (Singler 3-7, Sim 1-2, Nared 1-2, Strowbridge 1-5, Williams 0-1, Loyd 0-2, Armstead 0-2). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 2 (Nared, Williams). Turnovers: 8 (Catron 3, Singler 2, Loyd, Strowbridge, Armstead). Steals: 9 (Armstead 5, Catron 3, Singler). Technical fouls: None.
Attendance: 11,925. Officials: Mark Reischling, Mike Littlewood, J.T. Orr.