Seattle, Wash – The No. 11 Washington Huskies moved to 9-1 on the season Wednesday with a dominating 101-44 win over Cal State Northridge. It was their sixth consecutive victory.
Kelsey Plum lead the Huskies with 30 points, and Chantel Osahor had a double-double with 10 points and 20 rebounds. Freshman Aarion McDonald, in her first career start, put up 23 points. Katie Collier and freshman Amber Melgoza each added 10 points.
Both teams were cold to start the game, with CSUN shooting 0-10 while UW got off to an 8-0 lead. This forced Matador coach Jason Flowers to do a complete line change and sub out all five of his starters to try and find some scoring momentum early in the game. It worked briefly as CSUN was able to cut the Huskies’ lead down to six with 3:31 left in the first period.
Washington went on a 17-4 run in the first five minutes of the second quarter. McDonald, who had showcased her offensive prowess in the first period, made life hard for the Matadors in the second with her defense. The hosts lead 49-15 at halftime.
The second half was more Husky domination, as they outscored the visitors 33-10 in the third period. The stand out play of the quarter was when Osahor pulled down an offensive rebound after a missed shot by Deja Strother. Osahor then spun back towards the basket and laid the ball up while getting fouled, to earn the traditional three-point play.
Plum and Osahor went to the bench with about two minutes to play in the third quarter, and they didn’t return. Plum is 23 points from becoming the Pac-12’s all-time scoring leader.
Washington coach Mike Neighbors was especially pleased with McDonald’s defensive play.
“We pressed for the first time in five years tonight. She can do that,” he said. “She can pick up. She’s in great shape. She can extend full court. She turned them over twice doing it and I felt she disrupted their offense every time she did do it.”
McDonald said her mindset was to keep the pace quick.
“I was able to push the ball and either find a shot for myself or for my teammate,” she said.
Their current average margin of victory for the Huskies is over 36 points a game, and they have climbed in the rankings the last few weeks to look every bit like the team that surprised the college basketball nation by reaching the Final Four last season.
Plum said playing in a lopsided match up was an opportunity for the team.
“We worked on our zone, our trapping, on ball-screens, and defensive schemes,” Plum said. “And on the offensive end, executing certain plays that we don’t usually run. Coach is trying to find different players and give them different opportunities.”
Neighbors relished the chance to put everyone on the floor, including the four freshmen.
“It’s super valuable,” he said. “Just being under the lights, having the uniform on, being in those situations. Every second is valuable. We can simulate the best we can in practice, but game type situations…not only for Pac 12, but for the overall program health.”
To the Matadors credit, they played tough in the fourth and final period and had their best quarter by scoring 19 points. Junior Serafina Maulupe had 15 points on 5-11 shooting and knocked down 5-6 from three-point range.
Plum is currently the leading scorer in NCAA Division I, and Osahor is the leading rebounder. Neighbors called it “crazy.”
“I don’t think it’s necessarily something that either one of them set out to do. But if it (ends up that way at season’s end), it would be phenomenal,” he said. “You see how Chantel attacks those boards…we haven’t been the greatest rebounding team over the years, but this year I think we’ve out-rebounded every opponent we’ve played. I’m glad that I don’t have to put a scouting report together. To try and stop Chantel (and Plum)…”
Plum played down her impending conference scoring record, as she has every time she has reached a points milestone.
“At the end of the day, we still haven’t won a Pac 12 Championship, and we want to get back to where we were last year,” she said.
The Huskies host undefeated Boise State Sunday.