Not only do the 13th-ranked Huskies have the nation’s leading scorer in point guard Kelsey Plum, they have the nation’s leading rebounder in forward-center Chantel Osahor.
There’s a college-football team one win from making the national playoffs, an MLS team one win from bringing home a title, an NFL team leading its division and a college-basketball team with the potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft.
So what does a Seattle sports scribe drowning in options write about on a late-November Tuesday?
That’s easy: Washington women’s hoops.
Not only do the 13th-ranked Huskies have the nation’s leading scorer in point guard Kelsey Plum, they have the nation’s leading rebounder in forward-center Chantel Osahor. Plum’s 29.9 points per game are 2.9 more than anyone else in Division I, and Osahor’s 14.0 boards per game are one more than second place.
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Kelsey has been on record saying she doesn’t care about individual stats, even though she has a chance to surpass the NCAA’s all-time scoring record. As for Chantel…
Were you aware you were the top rebounder in the country?
“Yup,” said Osahor with zero hesitation. “That’s a goal of mine.”
If you think about it, though, it’s in UW’s best interest for Osahor to feel this way. Short of missing on purpose to get your own board, rebounding is the one stat in basketball in which you can’t hurt your team by obsessing over. As a result, Chantel has transformed into a tractor beam for all things clank, performing well above her 11.3-rpg clip from last season.
As Huskies coach Mike Neighbors said, if the ball is loose and Osahor is in proximity — “there’s no chance. She’ll take it from a teammate!”
But in tallying five assists per game this season, Osahor is equally adept at giving the ball to teammates. And one of the chief beneficiaries of those dimes is Plum, who came into the season needing 977 points to surpass Jackie Stiles as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.
If the Huskies are bounced in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament and thereby eliminated from the postseason, Kelsey would need 30.5 points per game to do that. But if they play one more game than what’s guaranteed, her current pace would be enough.
Plum insists she isn’t thinking about the record, though. As far as her legacy is concerned, she knows leading UW (6-1) to a second consecutive Final Four would trump any individual accolades.
But she also knows her scoring ability is vital to achieving such a goal, so this offseason she put in work to shore up any shortcomings — particularly from long range.
Kelsey wouldn’t allow herself to leave the gym this summer without making 500 three-pointers. The benefit has been a .436 clip from deep this year, which is up .103 from last season.
But if you think that’s impressive, you should see what the rest of the Huskies are doing. Washington’s 87 three-pointers through seven games? That’s also tops in the nation — and the Huskies are doing it with the 10th-best percentage (.418).
When you have transfer Natalie Romeo hitting 26 of her 56 shots from beyond the arc (.464), it’s going to open things up for other players. Heather Corral going 12 of 27 from deep (.444) will do the same. Without an ounce of irony in his voice, Neighbors said there are times when an opposing defense’s best option is to let Plum — Plum! — take a wide-open shot so that hotter shooters don’t get a look. Maybe that’s why UW’s overall field-goal percentage of .477 is up from last season’s .415.
If you’re looking for the closest thing in women’s hoops to the Golden State Warriors, it’s the runnin’ and gunnin’ Huskies, whose only blemish is an 11-point loss to top-ranked Notre Dame. And if you’re looking for side stories or subplots, Plum and Osahor’s statistics should do the trick.
Osahor already made history against Idaho last week, when her line of 11 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists marked the first triple-double for a Husky. Is there more to come? To be determined.
In the meantime, there’s this tidbit.
Plum and Osahor are known to make non-monetary wagers from time to time. In fact, because the South Carolina women’s basketball team beat Ohio State earlier this season (Plum bet on OSU), Kelsey is going to have to be Osahor’s butler for a day in the not-so-distant future.
So when Plum saw that she and Chantel were leading the nation in scoring and rebounding, she offered to make it double or nothing. Osahor declined.
“Wait,” I said to Kelsey, “I thought you didn’t care if you led the nation in scoring or not.”
“I don’t. I just really want to get out of being her butler.”
|With 24 games left in the regular season, and with additional games in postseason tournaments, Kelsey Plum is likely to become the 12th player in NCAA history to score 3,000 points, and she has a chance to pass Jackie Stiles as the leading scorer in NCAA history.|
|1. Jackie Stiles||SW Mo. State||2001||3,393|
|2. Brittney Griner||Baylor||2013||3,283|
|3. Patricia Hoskins||Miss. Valley St.||1989||3,122|
|4. Lorri Bauman||Drake||1984||3,115|
|5. Jerica Coley||Fla. International||2014||3,107|
|6. Rachel Banham||Minnesota||2016||3,056|
|7. Elena Delle Donne||Delaware||2013||3,039|
|8. Maya Moore||Connecticut||2011||3,036|
|9. Chamique Holdsclaw||Tennessee||1999||3,025|
|10. Cheryl Miller||USC||1986||3,018|