Walton’s performance Friday night — 22 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes — went a long way toward helping legitimize the Huskies’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The win was the first for UW (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) against a ranked opponent this season.

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Kelsey Plum’s most memorable assist of the night came not on a made field goal but on what was nearly a missed opportunity during a milestone moment for teammate Talia Walton.

During a timeout midway through the fourth quarter, just a few minutes after Walton knocked down the biggest shot of the game for the Washington women’s basketball team in its 64-56 victory over No. 17 UCLA, the scoreboard at Alaska Airlines Arena flashed Walton’s picture and recognized her for reaching the 1,500-point plateau in her UW career.

Virtually everyone in the crowd of 1,547 rose to applaud Walton, who said she barely noticed all the fuss being made. In a tight game, the senior forward from Federal Way was busy listening intently to instructions from coach Mike Neighbors.

That’s when Plum stepped in. Like a trainer raising a heavyweight’s arm at the end of a championship bout, Plum grabbed Walton’s hand and forced it aloft to acknowledge the crowd.

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“I was like, ‘You better raise that thing. That’s legit,’ ” Plum said with a laugh.

Walton’s performance Friday night — 22 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes — went a long way toward helping legitimize the Huskies’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season. The win was the first for UW (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) against a ranked opponent this season.

“When she plays like this,” Plum said, “we can beat anyone.”

Plum, UW’s standout junior guard who continues to lead the nation in scoring, had her worst shooting night of the season, going 6 for 22 from the field, but she still scored a game-high 23, hitting 11 of 12 free throws.

When Plum went cold for stretches, it was Walton who rose to the occasion. Walton’s three-pointer from the left corner tied the score at 44 late in the third quarter, and after Plum opened the fourth quarter with a floater to give UW the lead for good, Walton followed with a key transition three-pointer to push the lead to 53-48.

“When she hit that three, I knew we were going to close it out,” Plum said.

As good as Walton was on offense, her aggressiveness at the top of UW’s 2-3 zone defense set the tone for what had to be the Huskies’ best defensive performance of the season. UCLA (11-5, 3-2), which came into the game leading the Pac-12 in scoring at 74.2 points per game, missed its first 15 shots as the Huskies built a 14-0 lead.

Walton was credited with two steals, but she deflected at least a half-dozen passes to help disrupt UCLA’s offense. The Bruins didn’t score until Kari Korver hit a three-pointer at the 2:55 mark of the first quarter, more than seven minutes into the game.

“Obviously, we don’t win that game without our defensive effort out of the locker room,” Neighbors said. “We were really, really good in the first half, really disrupting them, and making their players go to Option B and C.”

The Huskies’ defensive plan, written on the whiteboard in the locker room, was to have “10 eyes and 10 arms” attuned at all times to UCLA standout guard Jordin Canada. Canada had eight points and seven assists on 3-of-15 shooting.

Neighbors said Plum was “an absolute warrior” to play as well as she did despite being the focal point of UCLA’s defensive plan.

In the end, it was Walton’s night.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Walton said of the 1,500-point milestone, the 13th UW player to reach that mark. “It’s probably not going to sink in right now, even though (Plum) had to make me raise my hand.”