Washington blows past the Buffs, 79-46

Seattle, Wash. – It was Kelsey Plum night at Alaska Airlines Arena, but Thursday night quickly became the Chantel Osahor show. Osahor started the game off with her own personal 10-0 run and ended with 24 points and 20 rebounds to lead the No. 11 ranked Washington Huskies to a 79-46 victory over the Colorado Buffalo.

Washington coach Mike Neighbors was more than pleased with his senior center’s performace.

“She also got five assists and a couple of blocked shots,” he said. “She played the first 36 minutes of the game without a sub. This was a small encapsulation of who this kid has become, and what she’s made herself into. It’s great to see it all come together and culminate a great career with a great performance like that.”

Colorado coach JR Payne also had high praise for Osahor.

“She’s really long. I compare her to Shaquille O’Neal. She’s as big as a house, but she’s one of the quickest players on the floor. She’s got incredible feet. She can do everything. I actually think her best attribute is her passing ability,” Payne said. “They put together a team with a bunch of fantastic shooters, and you have to pick your poison. And tonight we didn’t guard any of it very well.”

Plum, who is chasing the NCAA all-time leading scoring record, got off to a surprisingly slow start. The ‘leading scorer was held to just two points after the first quarter and only nine points by half-time. The Colorado defense really locked her down well early on.

“They really played in her space. As soon as Chantel would screen, they would double her (Plum),” Neighbors said. “But she made the right reads, whether that was throwing back to Chantel or finding the open shooter. Kelsey will make the defense wrong.”

Payne said the Buff’s aim was to lock Plum down.

“The game plan was just to make her work,” Payne said. “She’s going to score. She’s going to go for 30 most nights. But we really wanted to make her work for those points. We did a good job of that early.”

Plum eventually found ways to score, and finished with a game-high 25 points on 8-15 shooting. But did not have her best stuff from behind the arc, going 0-5. Plum was aggressive and her dribble penetration allowed her to get to the line a lot as she shot 9-11 from the charity stripe. Plum finished the game with six assists, only two turnovers, and two steals.

To Colorado’s credit, despite getting down 10 points to start the game, Payne called a timeout, and the team responded in a big way. They finished the first quarter on an 18-10 run to stay within two of the hosts after one.

“I just told them to stay patient offensively,” Payne said. “Reverse the basketball, make them defend you, make them defend multiple actions and then get a great shot closer to the end of the shot clock. During that run we were more patient offensively.”

Washington separated themselves in the second half, eventually building a lead of over 30 points.

Payne was frustrated by the Buff’s performance in the third and fourth quarters.

“What didn’t go wrong? We didn’t contain penetration. We kept losing shooters. We were taking quick shots. We turned the ball over, which we normally don’t do very much. A lot of our turnovers led to quick baskets for them and that was very hurtful as well,” she said.

Neighbors credited his defense in running away with the win.

“Transition defense was the key. Once we cleaned that up, we did a really good job with our scouting report,” he said. “Our practice squad did a great job simulating Colorado.”

The Huskies held Colorado to under double digit points in two of the four quarters, and to only 25 percent field shooting for the game. Haley Smith was the lone Buff in double figures, with 16 points.

“I take a lot of pride in that. I erased all the offensive stuff off the pre-game board and said ‘I don’t care about that. Our offense will be fine,'” Neighbors said. “Let’s lock in because this Colorado team can be explosive on offense. They scored 35 points in a quarter on us last year. To hold them to 46 means we played well.”

It also helped having a third scorer and strong game from Natalie Romeo. Romeo added 14 points, including 11 in the second half. Neighbors said she made an impact down the stretch.

“We become multi-dimensional,” he said. “We go from winning certain games to being able to beat anybody. I think with two there’s only certain games you’re going to win like that. With a third scorer, you can put anybody out there and we’ll have a good shot at coming out with the win.”

Next up, Washington hosts Utah on Saturday for senior day.