The nation’s leading scorer was one point off her school record as the Huskies pulled away to beat the Redhawks 94-64.
The Kelsey Plum goodbye tour swung through Seattle University, and the Washington Huskies’ scoring dynamo put on a spectacular show Saturday night at the Connolly Complex.
Despite battling flu-like symptoms, Plum poured in 44 points — one shy of her career best and school record — as the 15th-ranked Washington women’s basketball team dominated in the second half and pulled away for a 94-64 victory.
“It’s a rivalry game, so I think there’s added juices to that,” said Plum, who also had nine rebounds and five assists. “But to be honest, I think the game just came to me tonight.
“In prior years I probably wouldn’t have allowed it to come to me. I probably would have tried to take it, but now I feel the flow and just let it happen.”
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UW coach Mike Neighbors knew something was wrong with his star when she lagged behind teammates during warmup drills.
“It’s the first time since I can remember that she wasn’t the first one on the court,” he said. “She’s just not feeling good. But she locked in. She knew when to conserve her energy.”
The Redhawks knew they had a difficult task in stopping Plum, the nation’s leading scorer who entered the game averaging 27.8 points.
She converted 15 of 23 shots, including 4 of 8 three-pointers. She also sank all 10 of her free throws in 38 minutes to lead UW to its 12th straight win over Seattle U.
“She’s an exceptional player,” Seattle coach Suzy Barcomb said. “How do you stop her? I don’t know. Ask Notre Dame. Ask UConn. We had a freshman on her. We thought our freshman did what she could to guard her.
“She’s just so clever and crafty. She knows how to draw fouls and lean in. A pretty player. What I like most about her is she’s a competitor. She doesn’t want to come off the floor. I appreciate her game. She’s great for women’s basketball.”
No. 1 Notre Dame is the only team to “stop” Plum while holding her to 22 points in a 71-60 UW defeat in South Bend, Ind., last week.
Otherwise, Plum has been a nightmare for opposing teams.
While leading Washington to a 5-1 record, she’s topped 30 points three times. In the previous three games against Seattle U, Plum scored 26, 20 and 22 points.
On Saturday, she had 14 points in the third period as the Huskies stretched a 45-40 halftime advantage into a 67-51 lead heading into the fourth.
Seattle U canned 8 of 13 three-pointers (61.3 percent) in the first half to stay within striking distance. The Redhawks were 2 of 11 in the second half and outscored 49-24 after the break.
Senior guards Kaylee Best (21 points), Claire Metoyer (11) and Alexis Montgomery (11) led SU (1-5).
“I just try to do what my team needs me to do,” Plum said. “Tonight we were a little bit stagnant. I felt like I had to get going a little bit in the third to make us feel comfortable.”
While Plum dazzled the crowd of 603 with dribble-drive layups, pullup jumpers and rainbow three-pointers, the combination of center Chantel Osahor (18 points and 13 rebounds) and forward Katie Collier (10 points) dominated inside.
The Huskies shot 55.9 percent from the field and enjoyed a 43-31 rebounding advantage. UW was 21 of 24 on free throws while SU was 4 of 11 at the line.
It was a proper start to a three-game road trip for UW that continues Sunday in Portland and wraps up Thursday at Grand Canyon.
SU (1-5) hosts Loyola Marymount on Tuesday.
This woman is on fire
After scoring 44 points Saturday, Washington’s Kelsey Plum needs 29 to pass former Stanford star Candice Wiggins and move into second place on the Pac-12 all-time scoring list. She’s 137 points away from breaking the record. Here’s a look.
|1. Chiney Ogwumike||Stanford||2011-14||2,737|
|2. Candice Wiggins||Stanford||2005-08||2,629|
|3. Kelsey Plum||UW||2014-present||2,601|