Junior Natalie Romeo scored a season-high 25 points, including making seven three-pointers, and the ninth-ranked Huskies had a 26-0 run in a 94-63 victory.
After the Huskies drained a pair of three-pointers to start the second period, Washington State coach June Daugherty burned an early timeout, perhaps sensing what was about to happen.
However, the brief stoppage didn’t slow down the No. 9 Washington women’s basketball team.
The Huskies continued the scoring onslaught and began the quarter tallying 23 unanswered points, which proved to be the knockout blow in a 94-63 rout in Tuesday’s Pac-12 opener in front of their largest crowd of the season – 4,635 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington @ Oregon, 3 p.m.
It was the 10th straight win for the Huskies, who improved to 13-1. The winning streak is tied for the sixth-longest in UW history.
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“We were just excited to play from the get-go,” UW guard Kelsey Plum said. “I know I was excited. Just to start Pac-12 play. And it was clicking.
“Those buckets were all assisted. So somebody hit somebody to hit a shot or layup. That’s the funnest way to play basketball. Tonight I’m glad there was a big crowd there because it was really fun to play.”
Including Plum’s three-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, the Huskies put their cross-state rival away early with a dazzling and destructive 26-0 run that left the Cougars gasping.
During the spellbinding spurt, junior guard Natalie Romeo — who had a season-high 25 points — buried three of her seven three-pointers.
Plum had eight of her 21 points and Chantel Osahor, who had 18, chipped in a pair of baskets during the run. Osahor finished with 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double, which leads Division I players.
Pinelopi Pavlopoulou ended WSU’s drought with a layup at the 3:48 mark, but by then the outcome had been decided.
Washington outscored WSU 32-6 in the second quarter and took a 59-24 lead into halftime.
The opening half included a handful of Husky highlights, including a gem from Aarion McDonald (11 points).
The freshman guard stripped Pavlopoulou at the top of the key before sprinting to the opposite end with Maria Kostourkova giving chase. McDonald stepped around the WSU forward at the rim and finished the fast break with a reverse layup that brought the fans to their feet.
However, this game belonged to Romeo, who canned 7 of 12 three-pointers – one shy of her personal best.
“I said before the game it would be great to get Bug (Romeo) going right here going into the Pac-12,” coach Mike Neighbors said. “The ball just hasn’t found her the last couple of games. The way we play with our motion offense and with our attack, sometimes the ball just doesn’t find you.
“We don’t run a whole lot of set plays, and when the ball doesn’t find you there may be a game or two where you only shoot it 4-5 times. I was OK with that because I thought it was all within the flow. But it was great to have the ball find her tonight.”
With Plum, the nation’s scoring leader, directing the offense and dishing out a career-high-tying nine assists, Romeo dropped long-range daggers on the Cougars from the corners.
“People kept encouraging her throughout the week, just be ready to shoot, we’re going to find you and we believe in you,” said Plum, who finished with eight rebounds and nearly notched her first triple-double. “She got us that big lead and she played great.”
The Huskies sank 16 of 34 from downtown and shot 50 percent from the field.
Meanwhile, Washington State fell to 5-7 and lost its fifth straight game.
Without injured forwards Borislava Hristova and Louise Brown — their two leading scorers — the Cougars struggled to keep pace offensively with the high-scoring Huskies, who led by 41 points in the final minutes.
“People are going to see this score and are going to go, huh?” Neighbors said. “We played really well, and when we make 16 threes the score can get out of control.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement, but I certainly think maybe a little bit of validation against another good team that we can make shots.”
Washington plays Oregon (10-2) on Friday and No. 22 Oregon State (11-1), the defending Pac-12 champion, on Sunday in its first conference road games.