Seattle, Wash. – All-American Kelsey Plum saved her best for last in her final home game at the University of Washington Saturday. Needing 54 points to tie the NCAA all-time points leader record, Plum scored 57 in front of 6,775 raucous fans to lead the No. 11 Huskies to an 84-77 win over Utah.
Plum surpassed Jackie Stiles’ 16-year-old Division I record with her output in her final regular-season game. Afterward, the revered senior admitted to feeling pressure in recent weeks.
“In the most respectful way possible, I’m glad it’s over,” Plum said. “It was becoming disheartening in a way because people expect so much. I’m grateful for it. But grateful that it’s behind us too. You don’t do something like this by yourself.
“I hope to make that very clear. This is an individual record, but it’s broken by a village. It’s broken by every teammate I’ve ever had and every coach I’ve ever played for.”
Even though Plum, had the performance of her illustrious career, this game was far from easy for the hosts, as the Utes played them close throughout the game, and also put Husky center Chantel Osahor in foul trouble early. Osahor still managed to get her NCAA-leading 26th double-double this season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but fouled out with 8:18 left to play.
Washington coach Mike Neighbors said Osahor’s exit from the game gave Plum an extra incentive.
“When Chantel fouled out, she had some words for Kelsey,” Neighbors said. She got that nod. That singular focus and it was takeover mode. I checked earlier and she had 32. Then I looked up again and she had 55. It was unbelievable.”
Utah coach Lynne Roberts could only look on in amazement during Plum’s 19-point fourth quarter.
“When you’re the best player in history, there’s not much we can do,” Roberts said. “We tried trapping the ball screens. When Osahor fouled out. It was like she became possessed.”
Utah saw three players score in double figures, led by Paige Crozon’s 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Tanaeya Boclair had 15 points and Emily Potter added 12.
The Utes made their run in the second quarter. Once down by 14 points, they rallied to cut Washington’s lead to just five heading into halftime at 40-35. Roberts was pleased, saying her team could have folded easily.
“I thought we were attacking well. Attack the basket and get them into foul trouble. Score in the paint as much as we can,” she said. “I thought our half court defense was really good. We hung in there and it was really loud in here. We did a good job of answering. They hit a big three, but we came down and we hit a big three. We showed some toughness.”
Neighbors said Plum earned the record the right way.
“If the game had been over and I started calling a bunch of plays for her….” he trailed off. “We’ve talked about it. That’s not how this record was supposed to be broken. It needed to be broken in honor of the way they set the records in the past.”
“There was not going to be a…..moment where everyone comes in saying ‘Coach I’m not shooting tonight, I want Kelsey to break the record.’ Knowing we have a few games left. That was never on the table. The record wouldn’t have meant as much to her or to the history if we had done something gimmicky.”
Plum’s family made the trip from California for the game, which made getting the record even more significant.
“It was pretty special,” Plum said. “It was the icing on the cake to do it in front of the home crowd. Getting the win on senior night with my family here. The (senior) ceremony after the game. This was an amazing day.”