SEATTLE -- Washington Huskies guard Kelsey Plum knows how to leave a final impression. Having already passed Jackie Stiles to become the NCAA's all-time leading career scorer with 57 points on Senior Day, Plum broke another Stiles record with the first double-double of her historic career (38 points, 11 assists) in her final home game Monday. The Huskies dominated the Oklahoma Sooners 108-82 to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.
"This one was more special to me," Plum said, "just because we won in the NCAA tournament, we kind of sent our fans off just with a lot of respect and appreciation for them. So I think that it was cool. The three seniors and coach, we had a moment right there when we subbed out. You just can't say enough about this city, this university and everything it's done for our team and me personally."
Plum entered Monday's game needing 20 points to match Stiles' NCAA single-season record, set in 2000-01, when she led No. 5 seed Southwest Missouri State to the Final Four. Given that Plum has averaged an NCAA-high 31.6 points per game, that was something of a foregone conclusion. But she did it in impressive fashion nonetheless.
After a relatively slow start, Plum exploded after halftime, scoring 17 points in the third quarter. With 6:24 left in the period, Plum's driving layup gave her 1,064 points this season, breaking Stiles' record of 1,062.
By that point, Oklahoma was close to breaking too. Despite early foul trouble, the visiting Sooners had matched Washington shot for shot through halftime, though the Huskies led by seven, thanks to their more sure-handed ballhandling and a 13-3 edge in free throws made. But things fell apart in the third quarter, as bad shots and defensive breakdowns helped UW extend the lead to an insurmountable 23 after three quarters.
"We just lost our minds in the third quarter," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "We started taking crazy-quick shots and forcing things and trying to make up for the mistakes that we just had, and they got in control. Washington took full advantage of every single time that we did that."
The Sooners began the night trying to use the same game plan that had helped Stanford and Oregon beat the Huskies in Seattle this season (the Ducks at nearby KeyArena during the Pac-12 tournament) by daring other Washington players besides Plum to beat them. This time, they did.
Although Plum did not score during the game's first seven minutes, the Huskies led by seven at that point, thanks to 13 points from freshman guard Aarion McDonald, who finished with 18 on 5-of-6 shooting in her second NCAA tournament appearance.
Later, it was guard Natalie Romeo who caught fire beyond the arc, knocking down six 3-pointers in 10 attempts. Reserve Heather Corral came off the bench to make a pair of 3s, banking one in during Washington's third-quarter run.
"I always say it all the time," Huskies center Chantel Osahor said. "If we can get [Natalie] and Aari doing the stuff that they did tonight, it's something special to watch."
Washington's offense was just that. The Huskies made 18 3-pointers as a team in 30 attempts, making up half of their 108 points -- not only a season high but also the most in school history in an NCAA tournament game. Washington also turned the ball over just eight times, two of those coming in the final minute after the starters had left the game.
Whether she was scoring or distributing -- eight of her career-high 11 assists went for 3-pointers, which means she accounted for 30 points as a passer and 68 combined between scoring and assists -- Plum was at the center of it all.
"She didn't make any wrong decisions tonight, I don't think," Huskies coach Mike Neighbors said. "Maybe she took it a half a dribble too far on a charge. We'll let it slide.
"She made the right read. It was on target, on time every time -- and that's why I think the shots went in too. We didn't have to change our shots. They were right in the pocket. Almost the perfect game. If she hadn't had that turnover on the charge, it would have been a perfect game."
With Plum and the offense executing so well, Washington has a chance to repeat last year's unexpected run to the Final Four. The Huskies' path continues Friday at the Oklahoma City Regional, where they'll face No. 2 seed Mississippi State. No matter the opponent, Coale knows a team playing like this will be a tough out.
"Washington was unbelievable offensively tonight, just unbelievable," she said. "I'm not sure who would have beaten them tonight."
The Huskies' path to the Final Four continues, but this was a conclusion to the Seattle portion of remarkable careers for Osahor and Plum, who also broke her own record for scoring in an NCAA tournament game. Monday night was an experience Plum had long anticipated, and it managed to live up to her expectations.
"I thought about it a lot," she said. "I visualized it, thought about it, dreamed about it -- whatever you could call it -- and there was no way that I was losing this last game on my home court."