EUGENE — After a lackluster performance three days earlier against Oregon State, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was pleased with the effort from his team on Saturday.
It just didn’t lead to a different result.
The Huskies dropped their third straight Pac-12 game with an 81-76 loss to No. 16 Oregon, the top team in the conference.
“We did a lot of positive things and we had a heartbeat,” Romar said. “I thought we brought more effort tonight.”
Andrew Andrews scored 15, C.J. Wilcox added 14 points and Abdul Gaddy and Scott Suggs had 13 each for Washington (12-8, 4-3 Pac-12), which had a season-high 21 turnovers.
E.J. Singler had 18 points, Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Carlos Emory also scored 11 for Oregon (18-2, 7-0), which won its 20th straight at Matthew Knight Arena in front of the first sellout (12,364) in two seasons.
The win, coupled with UCLA’s loss to Arizona State on Saturday, gives the Ducks a two-game lead atop the Pac-12 standings.
“That’s pretty good,” Singler said. “We’re just focused on winning each game especially at home.”
Oregon was without point guard Dominic Artis, who is out indefinitely with a left foot injury. The freshman had started Oregon’s first 19 games and averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists. He was also leading the team with 26 3-pointers before Saturday’s game.
Junior Johnathan Loyd started in place of Artis and finished with nine points and five assists, including a half-court alley-oop pass to Emory for a dunk midway through the first half that put Oregon up 20-19.
Loyd also had five of the Ducks’ 23 turnovers, including seven by Singler. But the Ducks outrebounded the Huskies 30-24 and scored 44 points in the paint to offset their season-low tying two 3-pointers on eight attempts.
“They drove us to the middle too much and that’s something we talked about,” Romar said. “We didn’t want that to happen.”
The Ducks also scored 27 points off turnovers, and had 10 on the fast break.
“The press really gave us a big boost there,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We didn’t want to use it too much. I was a little worried about it, but it was very effective for us. No doubt it changed the momentum in the building.”
Oregon led 37-33 at halftime but took control with a 7-0 run early in the second half.
Up 43-40, Willie Moore converted a three-point play after a layup in transition off a steal and assist from Singler, who then stole the inbounds pass and scored to make it 48-40.
Another Washington turnover led to a jumper by Singler and the Ducks took the first double-digit lead of the game with 14:22 to play.
Oregon would extend its lead to as many as 14 points, including 70-56 with 4:23 to play.
But the Ducks, who shot 57.8 percent, scored their final 11 points from the free-throw line to keep the Huskies at bay.
“The turnovers really took away from the performance,” Altman said. “We made a lot of bad decisions, but I liked our effort. I thought the guys played hard. . They’re a confident bunch. That’s part of the reason we had 23 turnovers. We need to curb some of that optimism at times.”
The first half featured six lead changes and four ties before Emory streaked to the basket for a one-handed slam dunk to put Oregon up 30-28 with 4:12 to play.
Emory followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle right before the shot clock expired and then scored on a layup for his seventh straight point to keep Oregon ahead 35-31.
“They were the better team tonight,” Romar said. “They’re not the 316th team in the country, they’re 16th and maybe better than that after this week. They’re a good basketball team. We knew we had a challenge.”