The University of Washington women’s basketball team (25-10) continued its historic run through the NCAA Tournament Friday night and is now within one victory of reaching the Final Four. Talia Walton scored 30 points, Kelsey Plum adding 23 and Chantel Osahor 19 and 17 rebounds as the Huskies moved to the Elite Eight with an 85-72 victory over No. 3 seed Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. (box).
With tournament victories over No. 10 seed Penn, No. 2 Maryland and now the Wildcats, Washington can secure a Final Four berth with a triumph over Pac-12 rival and No. 4 seeded Stanford, a 90-84 winner over No. 1 seed Notre Dame Friday night. The Huskies and Cardinal will meet at 10 a.m. Sunday in Lexington.
Washington and Stanford split during this season, the Huskies losing in Palo Alto 69-53 Jan. 29 and then defeating the Cardinal 73-65 March 4 in Seattle in the conference tournament at KeyArena.
Washington will be making its first appearance in the Elite Eight since 2001 and the third in program history.
Although Washington dominated most of the game, two plays ensured a victory. After Kentucky pulled to within nine points (58-49) with two minutes left in the third quarter, UW made a little run, capped by Osahor’s flat-footed 3-ball at the buzzer, giving Washington a 63-49 lead. Kentucky then whittled a 16-point UW lead to 74-66 with 1:49 left, but Plum buried a 3-pointer at 1:23 to put the game out of reach.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to get my team into the Elite Eight. I wanted to use my length (6-foot-2) and was able to do that. This win shows what we’re made of and what we can do when we play together“ — Walton.
Washington led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter and 35-30 at the half before building a 54-41 lead at the 3:02 mark of the third quarter . . . Walton hit 14 of 29 shots from 2-point range and added a pair of 3-pointers plus five rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks . . . Plum, who came in averaging 26.3 points during the regular season and 28.0 in the tournament, did not have an optimum game offensively. She made eight of 19 shots while also, uncharacteristically, missing four foul shots after leading all Division I players with 247 free throws made during the regular season. But she had six rebounds and a team-high seven assists . . . The 6-2 Osahor drained four low-trajectory 3-pointers and added five assists to supplement her game-high 17 rebounds.
The Huskies made 49.3 percent of their shots inside the arc and connected on 11 of 28 3-pointers . . . Makayla Epps led Kentucky with 30 points, adding five rebounds and four assists . . . Washington improved to 18-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and to 2-0 against Kentucky after meeting the Wildcats for the first time since 2002.