SEATTLE — Scott Suggs’ celebratory gesture did all of the talking for a team that has been accused of being too laid back much of this season.
His three-pointer for the Washington Huskies broke a tie and capped a second-half comeback in their 72-68 win over Washington State.
After his shot splashed through the net, Suggs slowly backpedaled down the court, peered through a circle he formed with his thumb and index finger while waving the other three digits in the air.
The display of swagger and bravado from the soft-spoken senior guard was about as uncommon as his 23-point performance, which was one shy of his personal best.
“I was just real excited to get some wins,” he said. “It hurts losing so much.”
Suggs and C.J. Wilcox, who also had 23 points, made sure the Huskies came out on top on Sunday in front of 8,508 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It was the first time this season Washington had two players score at least 20 points.
Wilcox, who also had five rebounds and four steals, did the bulk of his scoring inside the three-poing arc while Suggs torched WSU from long distance. Suggs connected on five of eight three-pointers, including the biggest basket of the game.
With the score tied 57-57 and 4:05 left, Suggs floated to the top of the key and sank a three-pointer that gave Washington the lead for good.
The Huskies (16-13, 8-8 Pac-12) have won five straight games against their in-state rivals. This victory gave them consecutive wins for the first time since Jan. 16, when they started conference play 4-0.
“After the 4-0 start, this isn’t where we thought we would be,” Wilcox said. “We knew we had a lot of tough games coming up and we dropped the ball on some games that we should have won. So that kind of sets us back.
“We are trying to get hot at the right time. We want to take these last few games and get in a rhythm and take it as far as we can.”
Washington State received 18 points apiece from Brock Motum and Royce Woolridge. D.J. Shelton added 11 and DaVonte Lacy had 10.
The Cougars (11-18, 2-14) lost their ninth consecutive game in large part because they committed 18 turnovers, which led to 25 points for the Huskies.
“It’s hard to lose a game, then lose the next game and lose the next game, but I think our team is handling it well, all things considered,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “They’re not excited or giddy about it. … They’re doing the best they can.”
Washington State started the second half with an 11-1 run to take a 43-35 lead. During the spurt, referees gave Aziz N’Diaye a flagrant foul for elbowing Motum’s neck. Motum made both free throws and Dexter Kernich-Drew drained a three-pointer to put WSU ahead by eight points.
It was the Cougars’ largest lead, but the Huskies responded.
“We had answers,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “Sometimes we don’t have answers on offense, but we did, coupled with some stops. Then we were able to get right back into the game.”
Abdul Gaddy connected with Desmond Simmons, who tied the score at 53 with a long jumper in the corner. On UW’s next possession, Gaddy lofted a floater over Lacy that put the Huskies ahead 55-54. It was their first lead since the opening minutes of the second half.
Wilcox helped seal the win when he intercepted an inbounds pass with 43 seconds left and the Huskies leading 68-63. He was fouled and made both free throws for the Huskies.
“We’re playing better,” Suggs said. “We want to finish out this season with some wins and go into the Pac-12 tournament with some momentum.”