Kelsey Plum’s shot at the buzzer doesn’t go down and the Huskies lose to the top-seeded Beavers, 57-55, in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament semifinals at KeyArena on Saturday night.
Right person, wrong hand.
Kelsey Plum drove left, found space in the lane, glanced at the clock above her and released the shot with her right hand. The buzzer sounded, then the ball bounced off the backboard, off the front of the rim and away. No good.
With that, the Huskies’ thrilling three-day march in the Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament ended. Top-seeded Oregon State celebrated its 57-55 semifinal victory over Washington in a hold-your-breath finish late Saturday before a crowd of 6,543 at KeyArena.
At a glance
All games at KeyArena
Saturday: UCLA 73, California 67 (OT); Oregon State 57, Washington 55
Sunday: UCLA vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m., ESPN
Even in defeat, the Huskies (22-10) believed they had reason to celebrate, too.
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“I could not be more proud than I am of them tonight,” UW coach Mike Neighbors said.
Down 57-50 late, the Huskies got a chance to tie after Chantel Osahor scored five points in the final two minutes to get UW within 57-55. Plum, UW’s left-handed star guard, got the ball on a sideline inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds remaining and curled around a screen to her left. But as she turned the corner toward the rim, she realized she had to hurry the shot up, and did so with her off hand.
“I didn’t think I had enough time to (stop and) shoot it,” she said. “And I missed it. It was a tough one.”
The last-second miss will be magnified because of when it occurred, Neighbors said. He argued that should be but a footnote to UW’s most successful run in the conference tournament. Never before had the Huskies won two games in the same conference tournament.
The Beavers advance to Sunday’s championship game against UCLA.
The Huskies will wait a week to learn of their destination for the NCAA tournament.
Plum, who broke the school’s career scoring record Friday with 29 points against Stanford, shot just 1 for 13 in the second half against Oregon State. She finished with a season-low 14 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
Osahor had 18 points for UW, including a three-pointer from the top of the key with 36.2 seconds left to bring the Huskies within 57-55.
Jamie Weisner, the Pac-12 player of the year, had a game-high 20 points for the Beavers.
Playing their third game in three nights, the Huskies were as good as they could’ve hoped in the first half. In their thrilling upset of Stanford in Friday’s quarterfinals, four Huskies played a full 40 minutes, and the fifth starter, Osahor, played 36.
Neighbors figured his team would rely on adrenaline against Oregon State, and that certainly appeared to be the case early.
Eventually, though, OSU’s rugged defense wore down the Huskies. The tough shots that were falling for UW in the first half were off target in the second half.
Oregon State, Plum has said, is the team that gives her the most trouble, defends her tougher and better than anyone else in the Pac-12. The Beavers lead the nation in field-goal percentage defense, and after allowing the Huskies to shoot 52 percent in the first half, OSU bottled up Plum (0 for 4) and limited UW to 2-for-14 shooting in the third quarter.
Despite their shooting struggles, the Huskies stayed within four points early in the fourth quarter. But Oregon State’s Gabriella Hanson’s three-pointer with 6:12 left gave the Beavers their biggest lead at 57-50.
The scoreboard was stuck there — 57-50 — for more than four minutes before Osahor’s layup with 1:50 to go cut UW’s deficit to 57-52. The Huskies had gone more than five minute without a point.
The game began with a fun, frenetic pace, as the Huskies (8 for 12) and Beavers (9 for 16) combined to hit on 17 of their first 28 shots.
Osahor scored 13 first-half points, connecting on 3 of 5 three-pointers. Plum had 10 in the first half, hitting 3 of 6 shots from the field.