Updated Mar 4, 2013 - 9:21 am
Huskies pull away from Cougars for 72-68 victory
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) - During its last road trip, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar pulled aside Scott Suggs for a chat about making certain he was playing with the right.
Romar's message was simple: play with more intensity and focus on getting involved defensively and the scoring will take care of itself.
Suggs' response the past two games is exactly what Romar hoped to see and is giving Washington a bit of optimism that they may just be able to get on somewhat of a roll before the Pac-12 tournament.
"Whatever was the case, he's doing a much better job of it," Romar said.
Suggs hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4 minutes remaining and finished with 23 points, and Washington beat rival Washington State 72-68 on Sunday, handing the Cougars their ninth straight loss.
Suggs' 3 from the top of the key snapped a 57-all tie. It was his fifth 3-pointer, tying his career high, and he added four more free throws as the Huskies (16-13, 8-8 Pac-12) pulled away in the final minutes. Washington won consecutive games for the first time since early January when the Huskies started conference play 4-0 before losing eight of nine, and won their fifth straight over the Cougars.
C.J. Wilcox also scored 23 for Washington, the first time this season the Huskies had two players top the 20-point mark in the same game. Suggs has 39 points in the past two games including 16 last week in a win at Arizona State.
"We just talked about playing with more intensity. That was the biggest thing," Suggs said. "Sometimes it might not look like I'm trying, but I'm trying always. I'm just trying that much harder I guess, trying to make a play aggressively."
Brock Motum and Royce Woolridge led Washington State (11-18, 2-14) with 18 points each, but the Cougars' worst slide since the 2002-03 season continued. D.J. Shelton added 11 points and DaVonte Lacy had 10 for the Cougars, who shot 51 percent but couldn't make up for 18 turnovers, many of them unforced.
"Most of it was just taking care of the ball. It was frustrating because usually we take care of the ball better than that," Washington State coach Ken Bone said. "If that was how we played all the time, we would just say that's who we are, but we don't average 18 turnovers per game.
Washington State started the second half on an 11-1 run, including a five-point possession after Aziz N'Diaye was called for a flagrant foul, Motum hit two free throws and Dexter Kernich-Drew knocked down a 3 to give the Cougars their biggest lead at 43-35. It didn't last long with Washington scoring the next six points and nipping at the Cougars the rest of the half. Twice the Huskies pulled within one – 47-46 and 49-48 – and finally got even when Desmond Simmons knocked down a 17-footer as the shot clock expired with 7 minutes left to tie the game at 53.
Woolridge split a pair of free throws and Gaddy hit a floater in the lane to give Washington its first lead since halftime. The Cougars followed with an unforced turnover and Wilcox's two free throws pushed the lead to three, only to see Motum's free throw and driving basket tie the game at 57.
Suggs, who had not scored in nearly 10 minutes, found himself open at the top of the key and knocked down his fifth 3-pointer for a 60-57 lead. Suggs and Wilcox combined to hit 5 of 6 free throws over the next two minutes before Woolridge's driving basket with 2:09 left cut the Cougars deficit to six. Motum's two free throws cut the Huskies lead to 66-61, but Wilcox's driving basket and two free throws with 39 seconds left cinched the victory.
Washington scored 10 of its final 12 points at the foul line.
"We're definitely frustrated," Woolridge said. "We came out and we played well at the beginning. If you take some of the turnovers away I feel like it would have been a lot different of a game."
Motum led the Cougars in scoring, but was held in check for most of the first half. He scored the first five points for Washington State and instantly that caused the Huskies to change. Out went Shawn Kemp Jr. and in came Simmons, who was matched up almost exclusively with Motum the rest of the half. Simmons held Motum to 15 points in the first meeting back in January after he had average nearly 23 points in the Cougars previous seven games.
Once Simmons entered, Motum disappeared and went scoreless until getting free for a layup with less than a minute left in the half. Motum played all 40 minutes and finished 6 of 10 shooting.
"They said to be ready early," Simmons said. "When someone like Brock gets going early, it's hard to shut him down."
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