Kelsey Plum scores 38 as Huskies race past Oklahoma 108-82, clinch Sweet 16
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – At this point, the records are just a blur for Kelsey Plum. They get crossed off so quickly there is no opportunity for appreciation.
But the final time she walked off her home floor on Monday night, after scoring 38 points and lifting Washington into the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, that’s the moment that will be lasting for Plum. Not the latest accolade on the resume of her career.
“What I’m going to remember from this night was the win, the feeling with my teammates. That’s it,” Plum said. “That’s not disrespect to the individual record. It’s really not. It’s just not something I pay attention to.”
Plum and the third-seeded Huskies are going to the Sweet 16 in consecutive years for the first time in school history after dispatching No. 6 seed Oklahoma 108-82 in an entertaining offensive shootout where the Sooners’ simply couldn’t keep up.
Plum passed another Jackie Stiles’ record to become the all-time single-season scoring leader, having already topped Stiles’ all-time career scoring mark last month. Plum now has 1,080 points this season. But Plum was far from alone in carrying the Huskies to Oklahoma City and a matchup with No. 2 seed Mississippi State in the regional semifinals.
Aarion McDonald got Washington’s complementary players going early with 13 points in the first quarter, and finished with 18. Natalie Romeo had 20 and Chantel Osahor did her usual bit of everything with 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.
And not to be outdone, Plum was responsible for many of those points from others with a career-high 11 assists.
“There was no way I was losing this last game on my home court,” Plum said.
Gioya Carter led Oklahoma (23-10) with 17 points and Chelsea Dungee added 16, but the Sooners simply couldn’t keep up with Washington’s offensive efficiency. It’s the second time in three years the Sooners were knocked out in the second round by a Pac-12 school with a chance to return home for the regional.
“We liked where we were at sitting at halftime, then like coach said we came out third quarter and just went crazy, and you can’t do that against a team like Washington,” Oklahoma guard Peyton Little said.
After a dynamic first half by both teams, Washington separated in the third quarter, but not before both teams had a little fun. During the review of a flagrant foul in the opening moments of the second half both benches engaged in a dance off much to the delight of the crowd.
“I was cracking up. I thought it was awesome,” Osahor said.
“I think we lost, though,” Plum added.
That was the only place the Huskies lost on this night. Plum quickly knocked down a 3 to pull even with Stiles’ for the most points in a single-season. Three minutes later, Plum scored on a driving layup for the 1,064th point of the season passing yet another record held by Stiles.
Plum added a bounce-pass assist to Katie Collier and scored on another drive and Washington had its biggest lead at 69-55 with 5:30 left in the third quarter. The Huskies closed the quarter on a 15-4 run and led by as many as 29 in the fourth quarter.
“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 of every single time that we did that,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said.
Both teams put on an offensive showcase in the first half. They were a combined 34 of 66 shooting, including 17 made 3-pointers and Oklahoma didn’t let Washington run away until late in the half. Little’s 3-pointer with 7:42 left in the half gave Oklahoma a 31-30 lead, only to see Washington respond with a 13-0 run capped by Romeo’s 3 from the wing.
Washington hit 18 3-pointers, an NCAA Tournament single-game record and one off the school record. Plum is two made free throws away from setting another career NCAA record.
Oklahoma: The Sooners had zero inside presence after Vionise Pierre-Louis picked up two fouls early and spent most of the first half on the bench. Pierre-Louis didn’t score until the 7:56 mark of the third quarter and finished with six points. Pierre-Louis had 17 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks in the first round.
Washington: Romeo had made five combined 3-pointers in the previous three games before hitting six 3s against the Sooners. It was her most since hitting 10 3s in a January win over California.
Washington will face Mississippi State on Friday in the regional semifinals.