The sign said it all, “Kelsey you are #Plumbelievable.”
University of Washington senior guard Kelsey Plum put on a show on senior night last Saturday against the Utah Utes.
The Huskies were playing their final Pac-12 regular season game. Plum was 53 points away from tying former Missouri State star Jackie Stiles as the highest scoring player in NCAA women’s basketball history.
Though the number of points seemed a high goal to reach you could still feel a sense of hope at the Alaska Airlines Arena that tonight could be the night to see history in the making.
Washington didn’t forget they needed to get the win. They played a balanced attack against a Utah team that played better than their 5-13 Pac-12 record.
The 11th ranked Huskies (27-4, 15-3) kept the lead throughout the contest with the play of Plum, senior center Chantel Osahor and team. The Utes tried to keep the contest close but Washington never blinked and Plum turned it up a notch.
At the half Plum had 22 points and the thought of a record run was a bit dimmer. But then Plum began to hit and as the points began to pile up you could feel the buzz in the stands that tonight was the night.
When Osahor fouled out in the third quarter, ending with 14 points and 11 rebounds with her NCAA record 26th double-double it seemed to light an extra fire under Plum.
Plum hit her shots and piled up some “and ones” including eight points in a row. As the points began to explode Plum took advantage of every advantage given to her by Utah.
Watching Plum play, she scores lots of points but she’s far from a ball hog. She never forgets she plays on a team. The Utes focused on her with double teams but Plum and her teammates kept their passing game moving smoothly. With all Huskies taking shots Utah had to spread out to cover the floor.
This allowed Plum to find more open shots and the outside, the inside, jump and off-kilter shots were just about all falling in.
As the game progressed through the fourth quarter you could see Plum was on a mission to help her team win and put the ball in the hoop.
The closer Plum got to the record, the louder the crowd became and the more, after each basket, her sly little smile became bigger.
And with a little over four minutes left Plum tied the record with a layup for her 53rd point of the game and it seemed that the Washington faithful yelled the loudest they could.
Until Plum hit “the shot” heard round Washington.
Washington got the ball back and the arena seemed both loud and quite at the same time. Bringing the ball down Plum started at the top of the key, passing the ball and receiving it back in the corner before heading back toward the top of the key. She made a slight cut to the left then sent a jumper just outside of the paint. As she was falling away, the ball fell in and the crowd went berserk and the decibel level hit a new high.
How Plum and the rest of her team kept their cool to keep playing I don’t know because just about every one of us in the arena had lost our minds with joy and amazement at what we had just witnessed.
Plum scored 35 points in the second half. She ended her night with a Washington and Pac-12 single game scoring record 57 points and at the top of the heap with the new NCAA scoring record of 3,397 points.
She’ll continue adding to that total as the Huskies take on the PAC-12 one more time this season when they begin tournament play this weekend. They are seeded third in the tournament behind number one Oregon State and number two Stanford. The tournament begins with the first round Thursday, March 2nd.
The Huskies have a bye through the first round and will begin play at 8:30pm on Friday, March 3rd at the KeyArena in Seattle.