PULLMAN – Oregon scored 20 points off 17 Washington State turnovers and even as the Cougars returned closer to full-strength Wednesday night, the self-inflicted wounds that hurt them last week in the Bay Area were too much to overcome on the Palouse in a 72-61 loss to the Ducks at Beasley Coliseum.
Robert Franks scored a team-high 16 points for WSU and made all eight of his free throw attempts, but the Pac-12’s top scorer shot just 3-of-13 from the field and was responsible for four Cougar turnovers.
CJ Elleby added 10 points and broke Steve Puidokas’ freshman scoring record, but the rookie guard was also turnover-prone, giving the ball away four times to an Oregon team that, similar to Cal on Saturday, seemed to capitalize on WSU’s every miscue.
After giving up 30 points to the Golden Bears on 20 turnovers in a loss at Haas Pavilion, it appeared the Cougars had solved some of their ball security issues during the first half of Wednesday’s game, turning it over only five times.
But 12 more WSU turnovers followed in the second half, and Oregon held a double-digit lead for the final 12:33 after Victor Bailey Jr. knocked down a 3, putting the Ducks up 51-39.
The Cougars (11-19, 4-13) have lost four straight games and wrap up the regular season on Saturday at noon against Oregon State. No matter what happens on Senior Day against the Beavers, WSU will enter the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 11 seed. Oregon (18-12, 9-8) was coming off a sweep of the Arizona schools and secured a third straight win. The Ducks, still in the hunt for a top-four seed in Las Vegas, close out Saturday at Washington.
WSU stayed on Oregon’s heels most of the first half and trailed by just two points with 4:06 left. But the Ducks used a flurry of 3-pointers – one from Louis King and two from Victor Bailey Jr. – to spring an 11-2 run and take an 11-point lead with 1:20 remaining.
The Ducks were accurate 3-point shooters all night, going 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. They finished 29-of-59 (48 percent) from the field and led by as many as 18 points in the second half despite having two players foul out.
Paul White led Oregon with 21 points, making 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc, while Payton Pritchard scored 15 points and had seven rebounds. Bailey Jr. and Keith Richardson also finished in double figures for Oregon, scoring 14 and 11 points respectively.
After playing the last two games without starting forward Jeff Pollard and guards Viont’e Daniels and Carter Skaggs – each of whom were out with concussions – the Cougars neared full health on Wednesday. Pollard returned to the starting lineup while Skaggs came off the bench late in the second half. Daniels, meanwhile, missed his third consecutive game.
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