Huskies squander 18-point lead in first half and outscored 39-23 in second half. Loss snaps UW's six-game winning streak.
Mike Neighbors campaigned for months and finally he got his wish – and then some – on Sunday.
The Washington women’s basketball coach desperately wanted the Huskies seniors – Kelsey Plum, Chantel Osahor and Katie Collier – the bedrock of the program’s revival to play in front of a crowd of at least 5,000 before they left school.
Against No. 10 Stanford, the Huskies attracted its first sellout in school history and packed Alaska Airlines Arena (capacity: 10,000), with so many fans that several spectators were forced unable to find a seat and forced into the aisles.
Nobody crammed in the standing-room only sections seemed to mind during a thrilling game in which the noise was deafening at times. The electric atmosphere was unlike any other UW home game in the program’s history.
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The only downer, UW squandered an 18-point lead and a 44-point performance from Plum, while falling apart in the final minutes and losing 2-68.
The defeat drops the Huskies (20-3, 8-2) out of a first-place tie in the Pac-12 standings into second. Stanford (19-3, 9-1) remains first with No. 11 Oregon State (20-2, 9-1).
Here are a few transcribed quotes from Neighbor’s postgame interview and the video (below).
(On the crowd) “Unbelievable. So proud of the city of Seattle, our ticket office, our marketing people, the people around town that rallied around, social media. For us to come out and see 10,000 people – regardless of the score – whether we would have been on the top end of that or the bottom end of that. A day that we all worked for and a day that we’ll all remember. Just super, super proud. It took a really good Stanford effort to beat us. Not disappointed. Not upset. Nothing. Not discouraged. I think our fans that were here got to see why they came out. And that’s a really good basketball team. That’s a team that’s been to a lot of Final Fours in the last 10 years. A few years ago if we would have played Stanford within 10 points everybody would have been going ‘Attaboy. Great job.’ And we’ve raised the level of expectation. We understand that. We embrace it. Stanford played great. They deserve every bit of the credit. They got our best effort.”
(On what flipped in the second half) “We had to get a little passive just because of the situation with our fouls. When Kelsey and Chantel are both in a situation with four. We had to go offense and defense with Kelsey. Chantel is having to not guard te other team’s best post player. We got ourselves in foul trouble for the first time in history. And it’s hard to play like that.”
(On Plum’s displeasure with the officiating) “I support Kelsey Plum like I have 100 percent from the day that she got here. I’m sure that on the court was probably way more frustrating than what I went through. So I have no comment other than to say I believe whatever Kelsey said because she was the one going through it. And there’s not an uncompetitive bone in that kid’s body. I’ll see what she said later on, but I’ve got her back 1,000 percent.”
(On offensive inbalance) “We’re at our best when we do spread it around a little bit. I think (Plum) took great shots tonight. I like the shots that we got. We missed 3-4 layups, a lot of shots that we don’t normally miss. There’s no other reason than they we were jacked up sky high. We had adrenalin coursing through our veins and we were numb, it felt. They have been in a lot of big games in their career. I also think they were very, very motivated from the two games last year in the Pac-12 tournament game and the Elite Eight. I thought they were very motivated from the get go and our energy level was there because of the fans, I think. And when they went on that run, you could see their confidence. They play a bunch of juniors and seniors too. And they had them on the floor at the end and we were playing some freshman.”
(On if this was first time Plum has fouled out) “No she fouled out once way back when I think maybe she was in the seventh or eighth grade. Maybe she fouled out once for us too. But it’s the first time I’ve ever had to take her out because of foul trouble ever.”
(On having to sub for Plum on the defensive possessions) “It sucked. It sucked to having her not out there. 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. But that’s just on me for not having practiced enough lineups of that. And we’ll get better at that. That’ll be something we get better at come NCAA tournament time.”