FROM PULLMAN — The heartbreak continues for Washington State, though it came in much odder and, perhaps, more painful fashion in Saturday's 79-77 loss to the No. 23 Oregon Ducks. We have our usual recap after the jump, so read on, if you can.
PLAYER OF THE GAME — A bit of a dilemma here. It's hard not to give it to the guy on the winning team who scored 25 points and made the two game-deciding free throws in the final seconds. That would be E.J. Singler. But it's also hard not to give it to the guy who scored a career-best 36 points, kept his team in the game for most of the second half and made a 3-pointer to tie it with 6.9 seconds left in overtime. That was Royce Woolridge. Ultimately, because I think Woolridge's performance meant more to the Cougars than Singler's did to the Ducks — though they were both very, very crucial — I'm giving the nod to Woolridge. His point total was the highest for a WSU player since Klay Thompson went for 43 against Washington in the 2011 Pac-10 tournament (a game, oddly enough, that WSU also lost in overtime).
PLAY OF THE GAME — It's unfortunate that such a thrilling finish was decided by a mental mistake, but that's part of the game. Dexter Kernich-Drew apparently thought the Cougars were still trailing after Woolridge sank his clutch 3-pointer. There's no other explanation for why Kernich-Drew reached out and grabbed Singler in the open court with 3.8 seconds left and the score tied at 77. But he did, and Singler made both free throws to win it for the Ducks. Coach Ken Bone and WSU players said afterward that Kernich-Drew simply made a mistake, and that it's in the past now and they'll learn from it and move on. That's all there is to do.
STAT OF THE GAME — Oregon missed 31 shots and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, six of those by super-active forward Arsalan Kazemi. That's a really high percentage. Another almost unbelievable statistic, which was dug up and noted by WSU play-by-play man Bud Nameck — Oregon has now won eight consecutive overtime games against the Cougars, who haven't won in overtime over UO since 1967. Three of those losses have come in Bone's tenure (the first two were both in the 2009-10 season).
QUOTABLE — “The losses column is adding up a fair bit now, and we could easily just turn our backs on each other and the coaches and quit on the season, but I don’t think we've done that in any game this year.” — forward Brock Motum, assessing WSU's late comeback
UP NEXT — Another quick turnaround, as the Cougars leave Tuesday for a Wednesday game at Arizona State in Tempe. That will be a 7 p.m. start on the Pac-12 Networks.