Washington headed to first Final Four after defeating Stanford 85-76
— Washington Women’s Basketball (@UW_WBB) March 27, 2016
After defeating No. 4 seed Stanford 85-76 in the Elite Eight, No. 7 Washington heads to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Led by a quartet of players in double figures, the Huskies never trailed the Cardinal during the entire contest at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Even though they were far away from home, Washington felt comfortable.
“Rupp Arena felt like home all week long,” said head coach Mike Neighbors. “It was really run with a lot of class. Everybody made us feel very welcome. And after the first game, made us feel like we were the home team.”
They downed a Pac-12 foe in a Regional tournament in a year when a record number of teams from the conference made the NCAAs, five in total.
“It’s been a really good year for the Pac-12,” said Neighbors. “To have three teams in the Elite Eight, we were guaranteed of having one in the Final Four, at least, for the first time in a long time.”
Washington jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter with a balanced effort from Alexus Atchley, Talia Walton and Chantel Osahor. Six of those points came from three-pointers by Osahor.
Washington led 22-7 by the end of the first quarter. Stanford outscored their opponent 19-15 in the second period but it was not enough to overcome Washington’s cushion. The Huskies went into the break with a 37-26 lead.
At the half, Osahor was the leading scorer with 10 points plus eight rebounds. During the second half the teams played each other close. Stanford even outscored Washington 25-22 in the last period. However, their comeback attempt was not enough and the Huskies will be heading to Indianapolis next weekend to play in the national semifinals against Syracuse on Sunday, April 3 with a chance at reaching the championship game.
Junior guard Kelsey Plum, the nation’s fourth leading scorer, led Washington with 26 points, plus five rebounds and eight assists. Chantel Osahor tallied a monster double-double with 24 points plus 18 rebounds. Talia Walton finished with 12 points plus seven rebounds and Alexus Atchley added 11 points.
Neighbors was joined by Plum, Osahor and Walton during the postgame press conference.
“These three beside me have believed for a long, long time,” he said. “Talia who could have left and gone at any major school on the West Coast or probably the country when I got the job, and Chantel and Kelsey who had the opportunity down to the very end to make a change and they believed. For us to be here validates so many things for what we work on a daily basis, and we’re not done yet. Just ‘what’s next’ has been our motto, and it’s going to continue to be all the way through Indy.”
Osahor earned the Regional MVP award but complimented her teammates when asked about the honor.
“We’re all MVPs, I just got it, but we’re all MVPs here.”
Junior guard Lili Thompson paced Stanford with 19 points and five rebounds. Erica McCall added a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds. Karlie Samuelson scored 12 and Marta Sniezek added 10 plus six assists.
It was only the third time in school history that Washington advanced to the Elite Eight. The last time they appeared among the last eight was 2001.
On the way to the Final Four, the Huskies began with a win over No.10 seed Penn (65-53), No. 2 seed Maryland (74-65) and No. 3 seed Kentucky (85-72).
- The Huskies have advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2001.
- Washington advanced to the Regional Semifinal for just the third time in program history (1990, 2001).
- It is the 18th trip to the NCAA Tournament for UW and second-straight season after not going since 2007.
- The Huskies have won 20+ games for the fifth-straight year, best since seven-straight from 1984-85 to 90-91.
- Kelsey Plum is Wasington’s all-time leading scorer. She became the fastest to 2,000 points in Pac-12 and 7th-fastest in NCAA history, doing it in 88 games.