The Huskies’ Kelsey Plum, the nation’s scoring leader, had 18 of her 26 points in the first half to ignite a big early run for UW, which rolled to a 63-47 victory over Arizona in Pac-12 women’s basketball action.

Share story

Ken Griffey Jr. sat behind the visitor’s bench at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday afternoon, snapping cellphone pictures of his daughter, Taryn, before the Washington-Arizona women’s basketball game, doing his best to blend in like a normal parent.

Of course, being Seattle’s most iconic sports figure, Griffey Jr. is anything but normal. At halftime, Washington introduced him as the newest major-league Hall of Fame inductee, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. He stood and waved.

“I watched him growing up and he’s amazing,” said UW senior Talia Walton, a Federal Way native. “I’m so proud (of his Hall induction). It’s a great accomplishment for the city and for the Mariners. A lot of people were skeptical whether he was coming (to the game) or not, but at the end of the day he’s still a dad and his daughter’s playing. So of course he’s going to come, and it was pretty cool to have him here.”

Cool, indeed. But this stage, in this arena, belonged to another star.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The Huskies’ Kelsey Plum, the nation’s scoring leader, had 18 of her 26 points in the first half to ignite a big early run for UW, which rolled to a 63-47 victory over Arizona in Pac-12 women’s basketball action.

The Huskies (12-4, 3-2) snapped a two-game losing skid but in the process lost starting guard Brianna Ruiz to a left-knee injury in the first quarter. Leaping for a rebound, Ruiz landed awkwardly while being fouled, and she stayed down on her back for about five minutes while three trainers attended to her. She was eventually carried off the court and back to the UW locker room.

Ruiz has twice torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee. UW coach Mike Neighbors said the severity of the injury wouldn’t be known until after results of X-rays were examined.

“She has worked so hard to make it back from a couple of those,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate. But I thought our team really rallied around her.”

Ruiz went down during the middle of the Huskies’ decisive 16-2 run, which turned a 9-3 deficit into a 19-11 lead.

Plum hit a long-step back jumper to tie the score 9-9. On the next possession, she crossed over her defender for an easy layup, then followed that up with a long three-pointer in front of the Arizona bench. Plum then assisted on a Walton three-pointer to make it 17-11, and reserve guard Alexus Atchley — Ruiz’s replacement — added two free throws to push UW’s lead to 19-11.

Arizona (10-6, 1-4) never got closer than nine points after that, and the Huskies led by as many as 20 points late.

Walton had 18 points and four steals, and Chantel Osahor had 19 rebounds for the Huskies, who shot 40.4 percent from the field. Just as important were the contributions from UW’s bench, with Atchley (seven points) diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers, and guard Kelli Kingma (13 minutes) returning from a concussion that had kept her out the past two weeks.

“We’re praying Bri is OK,” Osahor said, “but this is the time for other people to step up.”

Taryn Griffey, Arizona’s redshirt freshman point guard, had eight points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats, who shot just 21.1 percent (8 of 38) in the second half and 28.4 percent overall.

The Huskies were pleased with their defensive effort but most pleased that they won the rebounding battle, 44-40 — the first time they’ve done that in their five Pac-12 games. The improved rebounding, and the improved depth off the bench, should only help as UW gets deeper into its conference schedule.

“If you can get this deep into a season — we’re 16 games in — I know a lot of coaches in America who hate their teams right now. I love my team,” Neighbors said. “I love coaching them. They’re easy to coach. They want to get better. …

“I know we’re in good shape. I know this league, it continues to be the best league in the country. I know that we’re a good team in a great league.”