COLLEGE PARK, Md. –The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team knew that, in order to have success in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game against the University of Washington, among other things it would have to contain the Huskies’ standout guard, Kelsey Plum.
Plum -- who entered the postseason ranked third nationally averaging more than 26 points per game -- got her points in this game, too, finishing with 24. However, it was her job as a distributor that keyed a fourth-quarter UW run and allowed the seventh-seeded Huskies to down the 10th-seeded Quakers, 65-53, at the Xfinity Center on the University of Maryland campus.
By The Numbers
Junior Sydney Stipanovich finished the night with a double-double, recording 16 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Anna Ross had 13 points, while classmate Michelle Nwokedi finished with 10 points, seven boards, and all six of Penn’s blocked shots. Penn played just six players until the final minute, when Head Coach Mike McLaughlin cleared his bench. The Quakers had 14 assists on their 20 baskets, but turned it over 17 times.
For Washington, Plum finished with seven assists to go with her 24 points. Talia Walton had 18 points, while Alexus Atchley had 11 points and seven rebounds. The Huskies had 11 steals.
How It Happened
Penn never trailed in the first quarter, opening the scoring with a Lauren Whitlatch three-pointer. Washington drew within a point on two separate occasions in the period, but the Quakers scored the last five points of the quarter -- a jumper in the lane by Stipanovich, and a trey by Ross -- and held a 13-7 lead after one.
Washington reeled off the first 10 points of the second quarter, needing less than three minutes to go ahead 17-13. Stipanovich stopped the streak with a jumper, and then another Whitlatch trey and Stipanovich jumper made the score 20-20 midway through the period. It was 24-22, Washington, before Kasey Chambers knocked down a three-pointer from up top as the buzzer sounded to give the Quakers a 25-24 lead as the teams went to the locker room for halftime.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw nine lead changes and four ties. Ross had seven of her points and two assists in the period, while Stipanovich scored six points. Washington’s Talia Walton hit a trey in the final seconds to give the Huskies a 42-40 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Washington scored the first four points of the fourth to go ahead 46-40. Chambers hit her second trey to make it 46-43. At that point Plum took over. On consecutive possessions around a Penn turnover, she drove the lane and kicked to an open teammate for a three-pointer that fell through. After Nwokedi missed a layup, Plum broke out and took a long pass from teammate Chantel Osahor for an easy layup to make it 54-43.
Penn scored seven of the game’s next nine points to draw within six, at 56-50, then Stipanovich and Plum traded buckets to make it 58-52. Another Plum drive and dish led to a dagger three from Atchley, making it 61-52 with just 1:19 left. That proved to be the knockout. Plum had 10 points and three assists -- all three-pointers -- to account for 19 of UW’s 23 points in the period.