Photo credit: Cliff DesPeaux
Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas scored more points, but in many ways Scott Suggs (above) was the star for Washington in its 89-54 win over Portland tonight.
Suggs has been slowly building to this game. He scored nine points in the opener and had some bright moments this season, including a scintillating five-minute stretch last week against Georgetown.
But tonight it all came together for the 6-6 sophomore guard from Washington, Missouri. He converted 5 of 8 field goals, including three three-pointers for a career-high 13 points in 20 minutes. He also had two steals and an assist.
Suggs played the fourth most minutes and has proven he belongs in the rotation. He’s carving out a reputation as someone who can knock down the corner three-pointer and his defense isn’t too shabby either.
In the season-long search for a consistent third scorer, the Huskies may have found one tonight.
Pondexter on Suggs: “Scott is a good player. He’s still learning. He’s still king of young. For him to do what he did off the bench tonight was great for us. I think we’ve been waiting for someone to step up from that group of players and he did a great job tonight.”
SOME MORE OBSERVATIONS:
— Coach Lorenzo Romar shook up the starting lineup again and appears to have found a group that he’s likely to stick with for awhile. He put Abdul Gaddy and Darnell Gant in the lineup and took out Venoy Overton and Elston Turner.
Romar on the change: “I wanted us to get more organized. I wanted us to be a little more efficient. A little less risk taking in the first five.”
— The change didn’t help Gaddy, who was hampered with fouls. He was scoreless and had two assists, three turnovers and one steal.
— On the surface it may look as if Gant (four points and three rebounds) didn’t make a difference, but he converted 2 of 3 shots and gave UW another big body to throw at Portland. With Gant in the lineup, Pondexter slides to his more natural position at small forward where he’s able to shoot his mid-range jumper over smaller defenders.
— This was the best game I’ve seen Thomas play in a long time. If not for Suggs, he would be the star performer. Thomas was efficient and near flawless. He scored 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting and sank 3 of 4 three-point attempts. He went to the line six times and made five. But his most impressive feat: eight assists and no turnovers. He played under control and sank every open jumper. It was noted by a few people on press row that if Thomas continues to play like this, he’s a legit NBA prospect.
— The lineup change also pushed Overton back to the bench where he appears more comfortable. Several posters have noted here that Overton is better suited as a backup and he admitted as much after the game. He said it’s a mental thing. Once again, Overton spearheaded the defensive charge. He had two steals that he converted for layups, which ignited the crowd and deflated the Pilots. Overton finished with a season-high tying 11 points and three assists. Now if he could only cut down on the turnovers. Tonight he had three.
— Everyone played, but Romar used a 10-man rotation tonight and that might be the way he goes for awhile. He talked about cutting back minutes, but the rotation tonight looked solid. Gaddy’s foul problems may have given Suggs or Turner more time.
— Justin Holiday didn’t shoot particularly well (1 for 5) but he had a season-high seven rebounds and was active defensively.
— We touched on Pondexter. He too was efficient, shooting 8 for 13. He only had one rebound, which is probably the result of defending a smaller opponent and being away from the basket.
— It doesn’t happen often, but UW took considerably less free throws than its opponent at home. Tonight the disparity was glaring. Portland sank 21 of 31. UW made 13 of 19.
— And finally, turnovers were a major difference tonight. Before tonight, UW had 19, 20 and 25 in the previous three games. Tonight it had 11 and Portland 22. The Huskies converted the turnovers into 35 points.
Romar: “You know, with the exception of the first seven minutes of the second half, I thought we played as well as we’ve played since Portland State tonight, and maybe even better than we played against Portland State. We had gone on a stretch where we’d won a few and lost some, and in the midst of it still hadn’t really put in an efficient effort together, and tonight we did. I thought we made progress.”
“I thought we did a great job with both–again, with the exception of the beginning of the second half. You commit two turnovers in one half you’re doing a pretty good job of taking care of the ball, and that’s what we did in the first half. We ended up with eleven. Again, we will allow 13. If we commit 13 turnovers we say `hey that wasn’t bad.’
“Defensively, a team like that, the way they shoot the three, to hold them to 23% [on three-pointers] and hold them 34% shooting with 22 turnovers, I thought our guys did a really good job of concentrating on the defensive end.”
Pondexter on the low amount of turnovers: “We really concentrated on that a lot. We had a little bit extra emphasis on it, a little bit more penalty for it in practice. We really wanted to take care of the ball because that separates winning from losing. We had to run a little bit more if we had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio so guys focused on it a lot more and it helped us tonight.”
On the demeanor of the team this week: “I would say that we were all a little bit unhappy. We felt that we were really disappointing to ourselves, to our conference and to every UW fan. We really wanted to come out and prove to everyone how good we really are. It took a lot of hard work in practice. We all concentrated really hard and we really want to get a lot of work done so we’ll be ready by the time conference comes. These [are] two big games in Portland and Texas A&M before Christmas.”