The Husky hype is legit.
Senior guard Kelsey Plum and her No. 8 Washington Huskies (17-2, 6-1) can play, especially down the stretch, and the No. 19 Sun Devils (13-5, 4-2) saw it firsthand during a 65-54 loss to Washington at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday.
Plum, who owns the most points scored in Pac-12 history (3,041) and averages the most points per game in the nation (30.7), scored 34 tonight and 15 of her team’s last 19 points.
If anything, this was a learning experience for the Sun Devils.
“I knew it would be a challenge for these young guards to guard a player like Plum and it was,” said coach Charli Turner-Thorne. “I think it will be better the second time around for them. It’s hard, we are so short on our rotation right now and we only had one day to prepare.”
Not only did Plum shine, but senior center Chantel Osasor had an extraordinary night on the boards. Osahor, the nation’s leader in rebounds per game (13.7), had 20 rebounds Sunday night.
“Personally, I didn’t do my job on her,” said senior forward Sophie Brunner. “Twenty rebounds for one player is not okay in our program, so we’re going to have to adjust to that and get back to hitting people first and rebounding hard.”
Though it was an eleven-point loss for the Sun Devils, it was a game in which they statistically imploded their opponent. The Huskies’ 65 points is 27 below its average of 88.4 per game and was its second lowest-scoring contest all season.
ASU also held the Washington to shooting 4 of 21 (19 percent) from the 3-point-line, well below their season average of 40.3 percent.
“We really strategized to take away the 3 in this game,” Turner-Thorne said. “It’s just a quick turnaround when most of your players haven’t played a team of that level.”
One player who has played the Huskies, and beaten them before, was senior guard Kelsey Moos. Moos has been out since last weekend against No. 24 California when she suffered a plantar-fascia injury.
“Kelsey’s from Washington, so I’ll just leave it at that. She makes a huge difference when we play the Washington teams,” said Turner Thorne. “That one moment when we needed someone out there to say let’s go and then step up and take this game nobody did it and that’s what she does for us, so we missed it.”
Freshman guard Reili Richardson led the Sun Devils with 11 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward Kianna Ibis added nine points and four rebounds.
After the series split, ASU has slipped to fourth in the Pac-12 standings. The Sun Devils now head to the Bay Area to face No. 24 California and No. 13 Stanford, without Moos nonetheless.
“We’ve just got to weather January without Kelsey Moos,” Turner-Thorne said. “We’ve got four in a row on the road in two of the toughest places in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.”