Seattle, Wash. – It’s known to rain a lot in Seattle, but on Friday night it was raining three-pointers all over Alaska Airlines Arena as the Washington Huskies continued their dominant play in Pac 12 league games, defeating the Cal Bears, 90-67.
It was the sixth consecutive win for No. 7 Washington, as they remained a perfect 12-0 at home. They also set a new team record with 18 made three-point shots.
Natalie Romeo was the star of the game for the Huskies, as she took advantage of Cal focusing their defensive efforts on Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor. Romeo knocked down five three-point baskets in the first quarter for 17 points in the first quarter on her way to scoring a game-high 32. Romeo ended the night shooting 11-23, including 10-19 from three-point range. She also pulled down four rebounds.
Osahor said Romeo took advantage of being unguarded.
“They double-teamed me a lot in the post to start the game, so I was able to find her out there,” Osahor said. “Cal was playing the percentages.”
The Bears did their best to slow down leading scorer Plum and top rebounder Osahor, but Washington’s offense was too much to stop. Plum had 24 points on 8-16 shooting, including 4-9 from three-point range. Plum also added five assists and seven rebounds. Osahor notched her NCAA-leading 18th double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She also added four steals and four assists.
Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb thought her team played well against Wasington’s dynamic duo, but that this game showed just how good the Huskies, who went to the Final Four last season, can be.
“Washington is one of the best teams in the country and certainly one of the most potent offensively,” Gottlieb said. “When you can do what would be considered a relatively decent job with their two stars, and then their third scorer goes 10-19 from three, you’re in trouble. The way Washington runs their offense, you have to pick your poison. you have to give up certain things.”
Kristine Anigwe lead Cal with 23 points and nine rebounds. She put together several impressive low-post moves to dominate the paint. Washington did their best to contain the Bear star by mixing up double-teams and throwing different defensive looks at Anigwe. She helped Cal get the 32-24 edge for points in the paint.
Osahor said Anigwe is hard to guard.
“She’s 6-4, she’s athletic. She can jump over you,” Osahor said. “It’s very similar to playing against (UCLA forward) Monique Billings. She plays hard and fights for every play down low. She never gives up and she has great teammates that look to get her the ball.”
Husky coach Mike Neighbors felt his team did a good job defending Anigwe.
“The key with Kristine was mixing it up,” he said. “They are too well-coached. In their breakdowns and practices, they are so well-schooled that if you give them anything for too long of a period of time, they’re going to pick you apart. So we would change ball-screens, moving on the pass, sometimes waiting until she caught it. She’s a phenomenal player. So we did our best to mix it up (and keep her guessing).”
Neighbors was pleased with his team’s effort to out-rebound the taller Cal team by double digits.
“It was a total team effort. I felt we got almost all the 50-50 balls tonight,” he said. “Our guards did a great job tonight, Kelsey had 7, Aari had 5, and Natalie had four, that was huge. ”
Gottlieb said it was difficult to keep pace with Washington’s three-point shooting.
“It’s not a recipe to win a game if you’re trading three’s for two’s,” she said. “The game plan was to make their shooters take tough contested two’s. It’s hard to force them into that because Kelsey is passing so well. She’s not taking bad shots this year at all. Our fault was in how open Natalie was.”
“I told Mike after the game, if you play like that, I’ll be watching you in Dallas in the Final Four.”
Next up for the Huskies is No. 109 Stanford on Sunday, in a rematch of last year’s Elite 8.