ORIGINAL STORY | seattletimes.com
December 6, 2015
BY Percy Allen

 

For the second straight year, Kelsey Plum scored in bunches against Oklahoma. But for the second straight year, the No. 21 Sooners escaped with a win, overcoming Kelsey Plum’s 30 points (including 16 in the fourth quarter) to beat the Huskies, 71-68.

For the second consecutive year, Kelsey Plum scored a bunch of points against Oklahoma. However, the 21st-ranked Sooners came away with the victory again over the Washington women’s basketball team — this time escaping with a 71-68 victory Sunday in front of 1,580 at Alaska Airlines Arena.“It’s disappointing to get that close and not finish,” coach Mike Neighbors said. “We were one stop or one made basket away.”Plum finished with 30 points, including 16 in the fourth period.

UW's Kelsey Plum (10) goes up for a shot during the women's college basketball game between the University of Washington and the University of Oklahoma, Sunday, December 6, 2015, at the Alaska Airlines Arena. Oklahoma defeated Washington, 71-68. (Sy Bean / The Seattle Times)

She was sensational for most of the final frame and carried the Huskies to a 58-52 lead. Washington led 66-60 with 2:46 remaining and appeared to be on its way to its best victory of the season.

However, the Huskies’ offense went cold over the next two minutes while the Sooners closed the gap with a 7-1 run.

Still, Washington was up 68-67 with 49 seconds remaining.

That’s when Plum missed a jumper and T’ona Edwards collected the rebound before putting Oklahoma ahead for good at the other end with a layup.

Plum had another chance to be the hero on the ensuing possession.

The 5-foot-9 scoring dynamo drove hard into the lane where she was confronted by 6-2 forward Maddie Manning, who came away with the ball while Plum fell awkwardly and hit her head on a teammate’s knee on the way to the ground. “She got her bell rung a little bit,” Neighbors said. “It’s hard to get on a no-call, but it happens.” The UW coach’s comments were a slight jab at the officiating that forced the Huskies and Sooners to rely heavily on their reserves. Both teams got called for 19 fouls, but Oklahoma fared much better with the backups on the court.

The Sooners’ bench outscored UW’s 18-2.

Washington had difficulty generating points because senior forward Talia Walton (11 points and nine rebounds) slogged through her worst shooting performance of the season. She was 4 of 19 from the field, including 1 of 10 on three-pointers.

“We got good looks and sometimes it goes down and sometimes it doesn’t,” Neighbors said. “I want her to shoot those same 19 shots that she got tonight every night.”

With Walton struggling, junior forward Chantel Osahor (13 points and 13 rebounds) and sophomore guard Brianna Ruiz (12 points) picked up the scoring slack for Washington, which fell to 6-2. “It was tough,” Ruiz said. “I thought we played hard. I thought we played well. Just didn’t win. Thought we played good though. Gave it our all and that’s all that matters.” After Manning connected on two free throws with 3.6 seconds left, the game ended when Ruiz’s Hail Mary pass to Plum was intercepted by Edwards just before the buzzer. Manning scored 15 for Oklahoma (7-1).

UW's Kelsey Plum (1) cheers during the women's college basketball game between the University of Washington and the University of Oklahoma, Sunday, December 6, 2015, at the Alaska Airlines Arena. Oklahoma defeated Washington, 71-68. (Sy Bean / The Seattle Times)

The Huskies had hoped to avenge a 90-80 defeat against Oklahoma last year. In that game, Plum scored 45 points.

She was nearly as good Sunday. Plum scored 14 points in the first half and Washington led 34-29 at the break. Oklahoma held her scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in the third quarter before she took over in the fourth. “It was really gutty (performance),” Neighbors said. “To ask her to play 40 minutes and guard the other team’s best kid and hold (Peyton Little) to nine points and 4-for-13 shooting. To do what (Plum) does, I thought she showed a lot of guts.”

Plum finished with six rebounds, four steals and three assists to offset five turnovers.

Despite her brilliant effort, the Huskies absorbed their first home defeat and second loss to a ranked team.

“We had great effort today,” Osahor said. “I think our coach is proud of us. We’re proud of each other. We’re going to learn from it. That game is going to prepare us for the Pac-12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.

“Overall it was more of a positive than a negative.”

About The Author
Mariah Mendez