EUGENE, Ore. — Shawn Kemp Jr. never saw it coming.
While the Washington redshirt freshman forward dribbled near the free-throw line, E.J. Singler lurched in from behind and ripped the ball away to ignite an Oregon fast break.
Freshman guard Willie Moore converted a layup on the other end despite being fouled, which began a decisive 7-0 second-half run in a tense game separated by just three points.
It was the beginning of the end for the Huskies, who fell 81-76 Saturday and suffered their third straight defeat.
After Moore’s basket and free throw gave Oregon a 46-40 lead, Singler swiped the ball from Scott Suggs and this time he finished with a driving basket in the paint.
With the sold-out crowd of 12,364 rocking, redshirt freshman point guard Andrew Andrews failed to inbound the ball for UW, picking up a five-second violation on the ensuing possession.
The cheers grew inside Matthew Knight Arena grew louder and the place exploded when Singler stepped up once again and buried a long jumper in the corner.
His basket gave 16th-ranked Ducks a 10-point lead (50-40) with 14:23 remaining and put the Huskies into scramble mode.
Oregon forced Washington into a season-high 21 turnovers and the Ducks turned those mistakes into 27 points.
“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.”
Washington closed to six points (54-48) before falling behind by 14 (70-56) with 4:23 left.
The Ducks made things interesting in the final minutes because of their inability to make clutch free throws and take care of the ball.
Oregon finished with season-high 23 turnovers and converted 11 of 18 free throws with less than two minutes left.
Washington took advantage of the miscues and twice cut its deficit to four points in the final 32 seconds. But that’s as close at the Huskies got.
“We got stops to get back in it,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We had several opportunities where we had chances and for whatever reason we didn’t get the ball to the rim. We missed easy shots. They regained the momentum. They slowly pulled away from us.”
Two weeks ago, Washington (12-8, 4-3 Pac-12) and Oregon (18-2, 7-0) were tied at the top of the conference standings.
Today, the Ducks are alone in first place. They have a nine-game winning streak and they’ve won 20 straight at home dating to last season.
Singler scored a game-high 18 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Ducks.
Oregon played without freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who is out indefinitely with a left foot injury. He started the first 19 games and averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists.
Junior Johnathan Loyd replaced Artis and finished with nine points and five assists, including a half-court alley-oop pass to Carlos Emory that thrilled the fans.
Meanwhile, the Huskies are plummeting after a 4-0 Pac-12 start.
Andrews scored a team-high 15 points and Kemp had a personal best 12, which were bright spots for Washington.
C.J. Wilcox added 14 points while Scott Suggs and Abdul Gaddy each had 13.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Andrews said. “Usually (my job) is to get C.J. and Scott the ball. They were helping off of them so they gave me open looks early.” After falling flat in defeats to Utah and Oregon State, Romar liked the spirit the Huskies exhibited.
“We did a lot of positive things and we had a heartbeat,” he said. “If we have a heartbeat, that’s what we’re talking about. Bring forth focus and effort and we’ll deal with the rest.
“I thought we brought more effort tonight.”