It wasn’t pretty, but aesthetics doesn’t matter in the postseason when all that really counts is winning and advancing.
To that end, Washington’s 64-62 victory over Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament was a thing of beauty.
The Huskies started hot in the first half, led by 19 early in the second, got cold for an eight-minute stretch, but made enough plays at the end to push their winning streak to six games against their cross-state rival.
No. 6 seed Washington (18-14) faces No. 3 Oregon 23-8 at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Ducks swept the regular-season series.
We’ll keep the analysis short, but here’s some highlights.
— Scott Suggs is still on fire. Not sure what’s gotten into him lately, but he’s working on a five-game streak unlike any other stretch in his career. Tonight he had 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He also made 4 of 6 three-pointers and was 3 for 3 at the line. You’d think when a guy is that hot, he should shoot every time he touches it. Midway in the second half, Suggs threw up a heat check, but airballed a three-pointer. Still, he’s the only UW player shooting with an extreme amount of confidence.
— Abdul Gaddy delivered 11 assists, which was one off of his career best. Many of his feeds went to Shawn Kemp Jr. or Aziz N’Diaye for alley-oop dunks. Gaddy tried to take over in the end and put up two questionable jumpers that missed badly. However, when it mattered most Gaddy delivered. He found Desmond Simmons under the rim for the game-winning basket with 1:16 left.
— And speaking of Simmons, there wasn’t much he could do to stop Brock Motum, who had 28 points. He did everything possible. Simmons was smart to keep Motum off the line where he has 1 for 1. Motum made difficult shots with a hand in his face and the Huskies were going to have to live with that. Simmons was the unlikely hero at the end. He was the third and maybe fourth option on the play, but wasn’t surprised when Gaddy passed him the ball. He set a pick at the top of the key and dove to the middle. Gaddy delivered a bounce pass and Simmons spun into the defense and somehow managed to flip up a shot over Motum barely cleared the rim and fell throught the net. Simmons finished with six points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.
— Give credit to Andrew Andrews for his defensive work on WSU’s last possession. Before the play, he told everyone who Motum likes to draw fouls with a swooping shooting motion. He also hoped he wasn’t in position to defend the 6-10. However, the Cougars used a pick and the 6-3 Andrews got switched to the 6-10 forward. Andrews said he knew the Huskies had a foul to give and was going to hack Motum if he drove to the rim. Andrews extended his hand hoping to bait Motum into shooting early and sure enough, Motum put up a quick shot while trying to draw contact and a foul. His shot missed badly and the refs didn’t make the call with three seconds left.
“If there’s contact on a shooter, I think there should be three shots,” Motum said. “But that’s out of my hands. The referees called a good game. They’re going to miss some things and unfortunately, I felt there was a foul, but they felt it wasn’t. That’s how the game goes.”
Seems like a questionable move on Motum’s part to try and make the officials make a tough call that late in the game.
— Still tough sledding for C.J. Wilcox, who was 3 for 11 from the field and 2 of 6 on three-pointers. He had 11 points. His best play came at the very end when he tracked down a long inbound pass from Simmons that looked like it was going to sail out of bounds.
— During WSU’s 15-0 run that helped the Cougars erase a 19-point deficit, the Huskies were trying to keep calm. Gaddy said: “Coach did a great job of when he brought us in, even though he could have gone crazy because they were scoring and hitting threes, he was like: ‘All right. We got this. Everybody calm down. We’ve got this.’ And he drew up a play. And he was super confident in us. And I think that’s why we came out.
Coach Lorenzo Romar added: “Just call me Denzel because that was a great acting job. I was going crazy on the inside.”