PULLMAN, Wash. — Oregon’s E.J. Singler was prepared for a lot of possible scenarios as he dribbled the ball up the court with the Ducks and Washington State tied in the final seconds of overtime.
What he did not expect was WSU’s Dexter Kernich-Drew to reach out and foul him.
Singler sank both of the ensuing free throws with 3.8 seconds left in overtime for the winning points in Pac-12-leading Oregon’s 79-77 men’s basketball victory over the last-place Cougars.
“Some of the guys were calling ‘foul,’ so I don’t think he knew what the score was," said Singler, who finished with 25 points. “I was shocked."
Washington State players and coaches rallied around Kernich-Drew, saying one mistake did not cause the defeat.
“It was just a mistake," the Cougars’ Brock Motum said. “It’s in the past now. He needs to keep his head up."
“If not for him we wouldn’t have been in the game," Washington State coach Ken Bone said of Kernich-Drew, who had several key baskets.
Carlos Emory added 20 points for No. 23 Oregon (21-5, 10-3).
Royce Woolridge scored a career-high 36 points for Washington State (11-15, 2-11), loser of six straight. Woolridge missed a half-court shot as time expired.
The score was tied 71-71 at the end of regulation time.
DaVonte Lacy’s free throw put Washington State up 72-71, but Johnathan Loyd replied with a basket and then Emory stole a pass and slammed the ball home for a 75-72 Oregon lead.
Motum sank two free throws to bring WSU within one.
Singler made a free throw to give Oregon a 76-74 lead. After a WSU miss, Emory was fouled on the rebound and made his first free throw but missed his second. Oregon got the rebound but turned the ball over with 29 seconds left. Woolridge made a long 3-pointer to tie the score 77-77.
But Kernich-Drew fouled Singler with 3.8 seconds left and the senior made both free throws for the winning points.
The Cougars’ first four field goals of the game were 3-pointers as they took a 13-11 lead.
Oregon center Tony Woods was called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Motum, WSU’s leading scorer, in the head and was ejected from the game with 9:55 left in the first half and Oregon trailing 19-13. Motum was on the floor for several minutes holding his head but then returned quickly.
Washington State scored six consecutive points after that foul to take a 25-13 lead.
Oregon managed only one field goal over a 13-minute span to fall behind 32-15.
The Ducks clawed back behind three baskets by Emory, but Washington State led 38-27 at halftime. Woolridge had 22 points in the first half. Oregon shot just 33 percent in the opening half, to 46 percent for WSU.
“We were dead, just standing around with no energy," Oregon coach Dana Altman said of the first half.
Oregon opened the second half with a quick 15-5 run, nine of the points by Singler and six by Damyean Dotson, to cut WSU’s lead to 43-42.
Then Waverly Austin’s basket gave Oregon its first lead since early in the game at 44-43 with 14:17 left.
“We all just got together and the chemistry started flowing," Emory said.
Two 3-pointers by Kernich-Drew put WSU ahead 52-47.
The teams traded baskets, and Austin’s layup brought Oregon to 56-55. Woolridge hit a 3-pointer for WSU, but Singler replied with one for Oregon.
Emory’s dunk and free throw put Oregon ahead 61-59 with 5:54 left.
In other games on Saturday:
STANFORD, Calif. — Kyle Anderson had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Shabazz Muhammad made a late four-point play and UCLA held on to beat Stanford. Two days after struggling offensively in a 13-point loss at California, the Bruins (19-7, 9-4 Pac-12) bounced back behind a stellar effort from their two prized freshmen. Anderson recorded his team-leading seventh double-double while Muhammad finished with 25 points, eight in the final 1:52.
Arizona State 63
BOULDER, Colo. — Evan Gordon’s buzzer-beating layup in overtime lifted Arizona State past Colorado. Gordon’s game-winner came after Spencer Dinwiddie’s bucket with 8.3 seconds left had given the Buffaloes a 62-61 lead. Gordon finished with 14 points. Jahii Carson’s 18 points led the Sun Devils (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12), which won for the first time in four tries in Boulder and swept the season series against the Buffaloes.