The 6-foot-2 forward hit eight of nine three-pointers in UW’s season-opening victory.
If any opponent ever slows down high-scoring Kelsey Plum, the Washington women’s basketball team has an answer.
Her name is Talia Walton.
The 6-foot-2 senior forward put on a show during the Huskies’ 100-55 season-opening victory over Santa Clara and thrilled the crowd of 1,868 at Alaska Airlines Arena with a career-high scoring performance.
Walton simply couldn’t miss while dropping eight of nine three-pointers — the second-most in UW history — for a personal-best 33 points.
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She sank jumpers from the wing. She drained off-balance attempts at the top of the arc. And she canned shots from the corner.
Walton, who fittingly wears No. 3, had never been better.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “A couple of shots, I didn’t even think they were going to go in and they did. It’s one of those things where you just get into a zone.
“Once I get into my zone, I’m kind of hard to get out of it. And my teammates keep me in it and it keeps trickling down from there.”
Walton was so good, UW fans expected that her buzzer-beating 50-foot heave at the end of the third quarter would somehow find the bottom of the net.
Walton’s spectacular shooting — she converted 10 of 14 attempts — highlighted her scintillating performance, which included a team-high nine rebounds, a personal-best six steals, four assists and just one turnover in 29 minutes.
“I’ve been saying for three years that she’s a kid that always got overlooked for all-conference honors,” coach Mike Neighbors said.
“But we had two great players on the team and we weren’t going to get a third one because we didn’t win enough games.
“I’m so happy for her. It’s important to her that her senior year be a good year.”
Aside from 23 turnovers and a shaky response to Santa Clara’s press, the season couldn’t have started any better for Washington (1-0), which shot 50.9 percent from the field and finished with a total of 20 assists on 29 field goals.
The game was competitive for brief moments early.
The Huskies raced out to a 9-0 lead and were up 16-5 when the Broncos used an 11-0 run to tie the score 16-16.
Washington responded with an 11-0 spurt of its own to go up 27-16 at the end of the opening quarter.
And that was pretty much it for the Broncos, who never got any closer. Forward Lori Parkinson led Santa Clara (0-1) with 14 points.
The Huskies outscored the Broncos 25-8 in the second quarter and led 52-24 at halftime.
Washington was ahead 81-50 after three quarters before outscoring Santa Clara 19-5 in the fourth.
Forward Katie Collier, who had 12 points, helped UW hold the Broncos to 30.2 percent shooting, including 3 of 20 on three-pointers.
Walton’s offensive display might serve as a warning for UW’s upcoming opponents. If teams focus on stopping Plum, the reigning Pac-12 scoring champion, then Walton will make them pay.
“She made my job a lot easier,” said Plum, who had 25 points, eight assists and three steals to offset seven turnovers in 31 minutes.
Neighbors added: “If those two guys combine for 58 a lot of nights, then we’re going to win a lot of games.”
• During a pregame ceremony, Plum was honored for helping USA Basketball win a silver medal at the Pan American Games this summer.
• Sophomore backup guard Kelli Kingma missed the opener due to a concussion suffered in practice two weeks ago.