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February 5, 2011EUGENE, Ore. - It was a forgettable road trip through the Pacific Northwest this week for No. 20 Washington.
First came a loss at Washington on Sunday, then another loss on Thursday at Oregon State knocked the Huskies out of the top spot in the Pac-10. On Saturday, it was Oregon's turn.
Joevan Catron had 20 points and nine rebounds, E.J. Singler hit four free throws in the final 25.7 seconds, and the Ducks handed the Huskies an 81-76 defeat.
"Our guys are frustrated, no doubt," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We had high aspirations in our minds, hopefully to win the league outright. I don't know if that's going to be able to happen at this point."
Singler finished with 16 points for the Ducks (12-11, 5-6 Pac-10), including his key free throws after the Huskies twice cut Oregon's lead to two points. Tyrone Nared finished with 14 points and Jay-R Strowbridge added 12.
Matt Bryan-Amaning scored 21 to lead Washington (15-7, 7-4), Justin Holiday finished with 16 points, Isaiah Thomas had 13 points and Terrence Ross scored 12. Holiday and Ross each had four 3-pointers, but got little help from the rest of the crew.
"All I can say is, we were 5-2 in 2006 and we lost three road games in row," Romar said, cautioning fans and players alike not to be alarmed. "Everyone else panicked, but we didn't, and we ended up finishing second in the Pac-10 and going to the Sweet 16."
While the Huskies are faltering, the Ducks are heading in the other direction.
They've won five of their past seven games under first-year coach Dana Altman to move above .500 for the first time since Dec. 30. Included in that streak are wins against Oregon State in Corvallis, their first win at Stanford in 25 years, and now their first upset of a ranked team since beating the Huskies in Seattle on Jan. 2, 2010.
"They are a more confident in themselves," Altman said. "We are executing better. I like that they trust each other to make plays."
The Ducks led 37-34 at halftime and increased their advantage to 62-52 following a layup by Catron with 7:57 to play, capping a 13-2 run that seemingly put the game in control.
Washington managed to cut the deficit to 70-68 on a 3 by Ross with about four minutes remaining, and a layup by Thomas with 40 seconds left made it 76-74. But Singler answered with free throws to push the Ducks' lead back to four, and after Venoy Overton scored again on layup with 19 seconds left, Singler again made two free throws with 15.8 seconds to play.
Nared added another free throw with 7 seconds left for Oregon.
"Every win builds confidence and tonight was great," said Catron, who was 8 for 14 from the field and also had three steals.
The performance wasn't all bad for the Huskies, who shot 52 percent overall and 41 percent on 3-pointers, making 11 of 27. But they also turned it over 15 times, leading to 26 points.
"Our guys should feel good. They passed a big test today," Altman said. "But again, we're nowhere near where we can get to. We've got to keep working."