The Washington senior is coming off a Pac-12 record 30 rebound game and leads the nations in rebounds. Part of her success has been watching hours of NBA games and patterning her game after Memphis’ Marc Gasol, but her favorite rebounder is former Husky teammate Aminah Williams.
Thirty rebounds in a game. It looks like a typo in print. And it sounds a little ridiculous when you say it out loud.
Even now – several days after setting the Pac-12 record – Chantel Osahor is starting to fully comprehend what she accomplished last Sunday in Pullman.
“I haven’t seen the full game, but I did see a little bit and it still hasn’t really hit me yet,” she said. “I need to go and recount if I actually had 30 boards. It didn’t feel like I had that many in that game at all.”
During Washington’s 87-44 win, Osahor had as many rebounds as Washington State. The Cougars’ poor accuracy (18 of 71 from the field) and the absence of their three leading scorers provided perfect conditions for a historic outing.
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“Before the game I went to one of our coaches on staff and said I need to get my mind right for this game,” said Osahor, who also finished with 20 points against WSU. “Then the national anthem came and I felt like I would get something high. I didn’t know whether it would be points or rebounds, but I feel like I’m going to get something high.”
After the first timeout, the 6-foot-2 senior forward had six rebounds and by halftime she had collected 16 – six shy of her previous high.
With 3:25 remaining in the third quarter, Osahor tied her personal best. She had 25 heading into the fourth, which tied the UW record set by Margie Nielsen in 1976 and 1977.
Early in the fourth, Osahor grabbed a missed three-pointer from Kelsey Plum to eclipse the school rebound record. A minute later, she surpassed the Pac-12 record held by Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne.
Osahor grabbed her 30th rebound with 5:47 remaining and 20 seconds later left the game with UW leading 75-31.
That night she did an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter and received a slew of congratulatory responses via text, Twitter and phone calls.
Normally Osahor, who has been the subject of an ESPN Sport Science segment and lampooned by basketball impersonator Brandon Armstrong, draws attention because of her unorthodox three-point set shot.
Around Seattle she’ll get the “Are you that girl?” look and is still a little uncomfortable with her newfound fame on an increasingly popular seventh-ranked Washington women’s basketball team (19-2, 7-1 Pac-12) that’s seemingly poised to make another run to the NCAA tournament Final Four.
“I still get it all the time,” Osahor said. “I just went to Ezell’s the other day and this guy was like are you the one with that shot?”
However, her rebounding skills are cementing Osahor’s legacy.
In addition to holding the school record for rebounds in a game, she set the season mark in 2015-16 with 417 and is on pace to finish the regular season with 440.
Osahor’s 14.7 rebounding average leads the country and is tied with Nielsen for the highest rebounding average during a season for a UW player.
“I’m excited and thrilled that she broke the record,” said Nielsen, who starred two seasons at UW before transferring to Central Missouri State. “They always say records are made to be broken. But it did stand for 40 years, and that’s plenty long enough.”
Heading into Friday’s 6 p.m. game against California (15-3, 3-5) at Alaska Airlines Arena, Osahor is 115 rebounds away from claiming UW’s all-time rebounding record held by former teammate Aminah Williams.
“We text every day about it, and she’s so salty about it,” Osahor said, laughing. “Every day she’s always like, ‘Wow.’ She just sent me a picture of her and (coach Mike Neighbors) with her 1,000-rebound ball and said, well, this is about to be gone soon.
“But she’s really happy for me. She wants me to break it.”
Williams, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and UW assistant Morgan Valley are big reasons why Osahor has become so dominant on the glass.
Osahor, a Phoenix native, admired former Phoenix Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire growing up but became a Gasol fan a few years ago and began to pattern her game around the 7-1 All-Star center.
At the start of the season, Osahor estimated she spent 5-6 hours a day watching an assortment of basketball videos of NBA players, UW games and practices and future opponents.
“I’d watch some of my cutups during class on my iPad and I’ll go watch with Morgan and sit in her office and watch some more,” said Osahor, a political science major. “Lately, I’m only watching about a couple of hours a day.”
Despite Osahor’s affection for Stoudemire and Gasol, Williams, a 6-foot forward who starred at Burien’s Kennedy Catholic, is the best rebounder she’s ever seen.
“What I learned from her is that the fight in you is more important than your size,” Osahor said. “Aminah is not only not tall, but she’s super skinny. … But she was the best at being a superstar in her role and her job was to rebound.”
During their two years together, Osahor found a mentor and inspiration in Williams.
“We kind of hit it off pretty quickly,” Osahor said. “In terms of our friendship, we’re really close. And in terms of basketball, when I was young I looked up to her and Talia (Walton) and all the post players to see what they did.
“And now here I am just trying to be like Aminah.”
|The top 11 rebounding games in college women’s basketball history:|
|40||Deborah Temple||Delta St. vs. UAB||Feb. 14, 1983|
|37||Rosina Pearson||Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida Memorial||Nov. 16, 1984|
|33||Maureen Formico||Pepperdine vs. Loyola Marymount||Feb. 15, 1985|
|32||Lachelle Lyles||SE Missouri St. vs. Tennessee State||Dec. 7, 2006|
|31||Darlene Beale||Howard vs. South Carolina State||Feb 23, 1987|
|31||Anna Strickland||Houston Baptist vs. Lamar||March 10, 2016|
|30||Chantel Osahor||Washington vs. Washington State||Jan. 22, 2017|
|30||Jennifer Butler||Massachusetts vs. Florida||Dec. 28, 2002|
|30||Kayone Hankins||New Orleans vs. Nicholls State||Nov. 26, 1994|
|30||Wanda Ford||Drake vs. Eastern Illinois||Feb. 16, 1985|
|30||Cindy Bonaforte||Wagner vs. Queens (NY)||Feb. 15, 1983|