Seattle, Wash. – No. 11 Washington steamrolled another opponent Sunday in an 87-36 rout of Savannah State. They have won eight straight, and are 11-1.
NCAA Division I scoring leader Kelsey Plum overcame a slow start to lead the Huskies with 23 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, five steals and only one turnover in 36 minutes of play. But it was Washington’s bench that really stood out in this game, with four reserve players logging 15 minutes or more each.
The first quarter saw both teams struggle with their shooting. Plum was held scoreless for the first several minutes of the game, causing coach Mike Neighbors to turn to his reserve players. The bench then sparked a 15-4 run to finish the quarter, led by junior Heather Corral. They lead 21-8 after the first quarter.
Corral, whose career has been marred by several injuries, was finally back and healthy after tearing a thumb ligament against Portland State earlier this year. She finished with 15 points against the Tigers, while freshman reserve forward Mai-Loni Henson added 11.
Corral said the bench needed to bring a spark to the team.
“I could see that the starters were a little slow and lackadaisical, as soon as me and Mai-Loni came in, we got things rolling and things started going our way,” Corral said.
The Huskies’ stingy defense limited Savannah State to just 16 points in the first half on 20.7 percent shooting. They outscored the visitors, 22-8, and led 43-16 at the break.
Most notable in the third quarter was that Washington started pressing and trapping at half-court to try and quicken the pace. The play sped up, but the Tigers handled the aggressive defense well, scoring more then than in any other quarter with 15 on 60 percent shooting. But a 1-14 showing in the last period doomed them.
Deyja Brown led Savannah State with nine points, and Taylor-Ashley Shaw added nine.
For Washington, Amber Melgoza had an impressive fourth quarter, knocking down two three-point shots and getting a steal that led to an easy fast-break layup. The Husky bench outscored the entire Tiger team, 40-36.
Plum said Washington is a deep team this season.
“My freshmen and sophomore year, we went seven deep,” she said. “Last year, six. (This season) We have nine that can come in and contribute on any given night, depending on the match ups.”
“When we play Oregon State, we’re going to need our big post players playing down low. When we face UCLA, we’ll need our guards. It’s really beneficial to get everyone quality minutes leading up to Pac 12 play. It’s absolutely the deepest team we’ve had.”
“In the past, sometimes we’d be up 18-20. We’d take players out and it’d become an 8-10 point game,” he said. “Now we’re putting in players like Aari (Aarion McDonald) and Amber, there’s no drop off and the continues to change the spread. This is the deepest team I’ve had as a head coach, without a doubt.”
Washington shot 45 percent from three-point range, forced 19 turnovers, grabbed 15 steals, and outrebounded the bigger Savannah State team 47-34 without leading rebounder Chantel Osahor, who is out with a concussion after taking an elbow to the head against Boise State last week.
The Huskies wrap up preconference play at BYU Tuesday.