Freshman Eric Knox sank six free throws in the final minute of overtime at the Sports Arena Saturday to lift Oregon State to a 60-58 victory over USC, forcing the Trojans to settle for a tie for the Pacific 10 basketball championship.
Both USC and Washington finished with 13-5 conference records, but the Huskies, who beat Stanford Saturday, get the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament based on a better overall record (22-9 to USC's 19-9).
The Trojans, along with Oregon State (22-8, 12-6) must await a decision by the NCAA selection committee today concerning a possible playoff berth.
USC clinched at least a tie for the conference championship for the first time since 1961 with a victory over Oregon Thursday night.
The Trojans had a chance to win Saturday's game in regulation when Larry Friend--who beat Oregon State with a last-second shot in the teams' first meeting this season--drove the lane and was fouled with five seconds remaining and the score tied at 50-50.
But Friend, a 71% free throw shooter this season, missed both free throws, and the game went into overtime.
In overtime, Knox kept driving the lane, where the Trojans continuously fouled him. His two free throws with 10 seconds remaining clinched the victory. USC, meanwhile, missed the front end of 1-and-1 free throw situations twice in the extra period.
Wayne Carlander had given USC a 50-47 lead with 1:11 left in regulation with a pair of free throws. A.C. Green cut it to 50-48 with a free throw 11 seconds later, and when he missed his second free throw, Oregon State got the rebound.
Green tied the score at 50-50 when he was fouled again and sank both shots with 55 seconds left.