Cardinal rallies from 18-point deficit to knock Huskies out of a tie for the top of the conference standings
In front of the largest crowd to ever watch a Washington women’s home basketball game, the seventh-ranked Huskies raced out to a big early lead over No. 10 Stanford and seemed poised to capture an important victory.
However, Washington wilted in the second half while squandering an 18-point advantage and a sensational performance from Kelsey Plum to lose 72-68.
The setback Sunday spoiled what had been a historic turnout for UW — 10,000 spectators for the first home sellout in the program’s history.
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“It was awesome,” Plum said when asked about the crowd. “I’m so grateful. I’m kind of bummed that we couldn’t get a win for them. That was kind of the whole point. Show up and we’ll win. And we didn’t.
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“I almost want to apologize because I feel like we didn’t do our job tonight.”
Certainly not Plum.
The 5-foot-7 senior guard finished with 44 points – tying her season high and coming up one point shy of her personal best. She moved three spots up and now is in third place on the NCAA Division I career scoring list.
“Graduation for Kelsey Plum doesn’t come soon enough for me,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She is a terrific player. I’ve known her since she was in high school. She is a worker and she is really, really talented.”
Plum converted 17 of 27 shots, including 7 of 8 three-pointers. She also had six rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes.
However, the rest of the Huskies managed just 24 points on 6-of-37 shooting from the field.
“There’s no other reason than they we were jacked up sky high,” UW coach Mike Neighbors said. “We had adrenalin coursing through our veins and we were numb, it felt.”
The Huskies were up four points in the final four minutes before Stanford used a 7-0 run to take a 69-66 lead with 29 seconds left.
Plum brought the Huskies to one point behind with a layup, but Karlie Samuelson drained a pair of free throws at the other end to extend Stanford’s lead to three with 10.8 seconds left.
Washington had one last chance to tie the game, but Plum’s three-pointer from the wing came up short and she fouled out seconds later.
“I got as good a look as you can get and it actually felt really good coming off my hand,” Plum said.
The Huskies (20-3, 8-2 Pac-12) received just 24 points from the other Huskies. Chantel Osahor added nine points on 1-for-10 shooting from the field and 17 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Stanford (19-3, 9-1) had four players in double figures with Brittany McPhee (Mount Rainier High) at 17 points, Erica McCall at 16 points, Briana Roberson at 14 points and Samuelson at 10.
The defeat snapped UW’s six-game winning streak and dropped the Huskies into a tie for third place in the Pac-12 standings behind Oregon State and Stanford.
The Huskies jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter at 38-20 and led 45-33 at halftime largely because of Plum, who scored 26 points in the first half. Washington sank 11 of 19 three-pointers while Stanford was 1 of 11.
That flipped in the second half when UW was 1 of 6 and the Cardinal 5 of 11.
“That’s called having an Hall of Fame coach on your bench,” Neighbors said, referring to VanDerveer. “They made adjustments and I’m not going to be in any hall of fame any time soon. Kudos to them. They made adjustments and we didn’t.”
Stanford outscored UW 17-10 in the third quarter and the Huskies held a 55-53 lead heading into the fourth.
Washington lost control of the game early in the final period with Plum saddled with foul trouble and on the bench. Neighbors shuttled her in and out, keeping her on the bench for defensive possessions when possible. The ploy worked in part, considering she was able to avoid collecting her fifth foul until the final seconds.
However, Washington lost its rhythm.
“It sucked to have her not out there,” Neighbors said. “Obviously she’s an important player for what we do, but I thought during the middle part we were fine. We scored a few times. Defensively, we had a couple of breakdowns.”
Afterward, Plum said she was “upset” with the officiating.
“It’s just really unfortunate because I felt a couple of those fouls that were called on me — like I said I’m not trying to make excuses — but they were not fouls,” Plum said. “And I’m not trying to say that, but usually I don’t get calls like that. It was just tough luck.”