PULLMAN — While every other Washington player seemingly ran out of gas, Scott Suggs soared in the final minutes and led the Huskies to a 68-63 victory over cross-state rival Washington State in the Pac-12 opener.
Washington watched its 17-point, first-half lead disappear with less than seven minutes left and the Cougars surged ahead by four points at 56-52.
Suggs scored the last three field goals for Washington, including a long jumper that gave it a 62-61 lead. After a WSU miss, Suggs sank a fast-break layup for a 64-61 lead with 1:00 left.
The Huskies made two free throws setting up a potential tying three-pointer from DaVonte Lacy that hit the back of the rim with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Abdul Gaddy missed a free throw at the other end giving WSU one last chance. However, Mike Ladd missed the free throw and UW retained possession.
Andrew Andrews secured the win with two free throws and the Huskies improved to 9-5 and 1-0 Pac-12.
Suggs finished with 11 points, C.J. Wilcox had 18 and Aziz N’Diaye had 14.
Ladd had 16 and Brock Motum had 15 for the Cougars who fell to 9-5, 0-1.
Washington State entered the game with the stingiest defense in the Pac-12 that was allowing 55.2 points per game. Only two teams had scored more than 70 points against the Cougars this season.
However, the Huskies began the game playing suffocating defense.
In fact it couldn’t have been a better start for Washington, which jumped out to a 21-4 lead with 9:44 left while holding WSU to 2-for-13 shooting from the floor and four turnovers.
Kemp punctuated the early run with a pair of slam dunks, including a soaring jam that was reminiscent of his high-flying father who starred with the Sonics.
At that point, the Huskies missed an opportunity to deliver an early knockout and their offense went stagnant.
The Cougars managed to gain momentum and crawl back into the game thanks to Ladd, who sank 5 of 7 free throws and had 10 points in the first half.
Still Washington led 34-27 at the break.
It was the Huskies’ best defensive performance of the season. They held the Cougars to 8-for-29 shooting (27.6 percent) from the field and 2 of 10 on three-pointers. On the other end, UW shot 12 of 23 on field goals and 3 of 5 behind the arc.
After two road games, the Huskies travel to the Bay Area next week to take on California and Stanford.