Plum, Osahor leave Hec Ed on a high as Huskies advance to Sweet 16

Kelsey Plum set an NCAA single-season scoring record Monday night. She now has 1,080 points. Photo courtesy of Washington Athletics.
Kelsey Plum set an NCAA single-season scoring record Monday night. She now has 1,080 points. Photo courtesy of Washington Athletics.

SEATTLE — No matter the result of Monday night’s second-round NCAA Tournament game between Washington and Oklahoma, it would be the final time Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor played in front of the Husky faithful at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The question was whether they — and fellow seniors Katie Collier and Heather Corral — would have more collegiate games to play.

It was a moment that Plum had given a lot of thought.

“I visualized it, thought about it, dreamed it, whatever you call it,” she said. “I thought about it and there was no way that I was going to lose this last game on my home court.”

With a night of season-highs and broken records, the Dawgs danced on.

Plum set the new single-season scoring record in college basketball with 38 points and a career-high 11 assists, while Osahor had her 29th double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the Huskies’ 108-82 victory over the Sooners. Natalie Romeo had 20 points, and Aarion McDonald 18 as the other Huskies finishing in double-figures, as Washington (29-5) set a season record for scoring.

“For those kids to leave Hec Ed with a win, in a fashion like that against a program that’s been to 18 straight NCAA tournaments, I’m really at a loss for words which I very rarely am,” said Washington head coach Mike Neighbors.

Four players finished in double figures for the Sooners (23-10), led by Gioya Carter’s 17 and Chelsea Dungee’s 16.

Washington will now head to Oklahoma City to face Mississippi State in the Sweet 16.

The Huskies took a quick 7-0 lead less than two minutes in, and led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, led by 13 points from McDonald.

But McDonald took a seat for the rest of the half after picking up her second foul with three minutes left in the first. With the speedy freshman on the bench, Oklahoma cut the deficit to five by the end of the first, and took its first lead of the night with a Little three-pointer just over two minutes into the second.

The 16 seconds between that shot, and a jumper from Osahor were the only moments that Oklahoma led on the night.

That jumper started a 13-0 run for the Huskies, and they led by seven at the break.

However, with two starters sitting the entire second quarter in foul trouble — Vionise Pierre-Louis and Maddie Manning — while Washington shot 50 percent from the field, the Sooners weren’t down on their chances.

“We liked where we were sitting,” said guard Peyton Little.

But what followed was the most lopsided quarter of the night, as the Huskies outscored Oklahoma 30-14 in the third, shooting 11-of-15 to effectively seal the result with 10 minutes left. Washington led by as many as 29 late in the fourth, as Neighbors lifted Plum, Osahor, and Collier with 1:19 to play, to a raucous standing ovation from the crowd of 7,579.

“We kind of sent our fans off just with a lot of respect and appreciation for them, so I think it was cool the three seniors and coach we had a moment right there where we subbed out,” Plum said. “I just can’t say enough about this city, this university, and everything it’s done for this team and me personally.”

In the words of Coale, her team “lost our minds” in the third.

“Sometimes when things get really crazy you default back to that pattern, that safe place that you have, and our thing seems to be we think we can score 12 points in one possession,” she said. “I don’t think it’s ever been done in the history of basketball. So we started taking crazy quick shots and forcing things and trying to make up for mistakes that we just had, and it got out of control, and Washington took full advantage every single time we did that.”

It was also in that third quarter that Plum broke Jackie Stiles’ record for points in a single-season. Not that she was paying close attention.

“What I am going to remember from this night is the win and the feeling I had with my teammates,” she said. “That’s it. That is not a disrespect to the individual record. It is just not something I pay attention to.”

It was the third match up between the two programs in as many seasons: Oklahoma won both ends of a home-and-home series, defeating the Huskies 90-80 in Norman, Okla. in 2014, and the rematch 71-68 a year later.

“We’ve had experience in big games in Pac-12 play and last year’s run, so I feel that that big game experience really helped us,” Plum said. “I feel like the last two times we played Oklahoma we hadn’t been in those tight situations and we hadn’t maybe handled it as well, but third time’s the charm.”

While the Huskies were able to get past an opponent that gave them fits in the past, they’ll now face a Mississippi State team in the regional semifinals on Friday for their first meeting in program history.

Their performance on Monday night made a believer out of Coale, not just for the Sweet 16, but the rest of the tournament.

“Obviously if they play like this,” she said, “they can beat anybody.”

Dribbles:

Washington shattered several program NCAA Tournament records in the victory. 108 points was the most scored by the Huskies in a tourney game, besting the previous mark of 99, set against New Mexico State in 1988. Kelsey Plum set a new record for most points scored by a UW player in a tournament game with 38 (the previous mark was 32, also scored by Plum, last season against Maryland) … 18 3-pointers by the Huskies was also an NCAA Tournament single-game record … Post-game, UW head coach Mike Neighbors talked about an incident with an Oklahoma fan in the game’s waning moments. “I look down and a fan challenged me to come down there. I obviously couldn’t go down there. Most of the time I am one of these guys that remembers three days later what I wish I would have said. But for the first time in my life it hit me what I needed to say. I said ‘hey I can’t come down there right now but I am going to be in Oklahoma City’.

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