Their 3-pointers didn’t fall. Kelsey Plum, the nation’s leading scorer, was not immune to that rare deficiency. And the Washington Huskies women’s basketball team did not look entirely like itself in its first-round NCAA tournament game against Montana State on Saturday night.
For a quarter, anyway.
The No. 3-seeded Huskies never did figure out their outside shooting, but it didn’t matter. They still won by 28 points, Plum still led them with 29 points, and Chantel Osahor still scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in this 91-63 victory before a partisan UW crowd at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Huskies (28-5) host No. 6-seed Oklahoma, which defeated No. 11-seed Gonzaga 75-62, in a round-of-32 game on Monday at Hec Ed.
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Washington pulled away from the Bobcats slowly, trailing by a point at the end of the first quarter, then leading by 11 at halftime and 16 through three quarters before eventually pushing the margin as high as 31 points in the final period.
Montana State managed only a 32.4 percent clip from the field and had trouble scoring if it wasn’t via the shot of senior guard Peyton Ferris, who led all scorers with 33 points but needed 28 field-goal attempts to do it.
The fourth quarter was especially ugly for the Bobcats (25-6), who scored just three points in the first five minutes of that period. The Huskies scored 18 points during that time, initiating the kind of lopsided score expected from the No. 3 vs. No. 14 matchup.
Freshman point guard Aarion McDonald (15 points and seven rebounds) and junior guard Natalie Romeo (11 points) joined Plum and Osahor in double figures for the Huskies.
Washington shot only 7-of-28 from 3-point range, and Plum made only 1-of-7 from that distance, instead attacking the rim for layups (7-for-11 on 2-point attempts) and earning her way to the free-throw line (where she shot 8-for-8).
The Bobcats cut UW’s lead to eight points midway through the third quarter, but Osahor scored seven consecutive points as part of a 13-2 run that put the Huskies ahead 59-40 after a Romeo 3-pointer.
The first half was an offensive struggle for both teams. And for Plum. She missed several open jump shots, going 4-for-12 from the field in the first two quarters with 12 points. But her first made 3-pointer gave the Huskies a 38-27 halftime lead despite the fact UW was shooting only 31.7 percent from the field and 4-for-22 from 3-point range.
Montana State couldn’t shoot, either, aside from senior guard Peyton Ferris, who scored 19 points in the first half. But her teammates combined to make only three field goals and score eight points before intermission.