Plum scores 32 as Washington stuns Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland center Malina Howard had just completed her college career in a most unexpected fashion, a shocking loss to Washington. The emotion of the moment was too much to bear.
“It just hurts a lot,” she said, her voice cracking as she fought back tears. “It’s not how we wanted it to end.”
Kelsey Plum scored 32 points, and the seventh-seeded Huskies beat No. 2 Maryland 74-65 Monday night to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.
Maryland (31-4) came in with a rich history of success in the postseason and a 10-game winning streak. The two-time Big Ten champions were also playing on their home floor.
None of that mattered to the seventh-seeded Huskies (24-10), who limited the Terrapins to 37 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers in the stunning upset.
“I don’t think we ever got into the flow of the game. Ever,” Howard said. “We just weren’t ourselves completely, offensively.”
The lackluster performance came against a Washington team that finished fifth in the Pac-12 and barely got by Penn in the opening round for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2006.
“It’s huge,” Plum said. “We’ve kind of been the odd-man out all year long. ... People kind of said, ‘Ah, Washington, not their year, right?’”
“This team is very resilient,” said Plum, the nation’s third-leading scorer, who went 8 for 24 from the floor and 13 of 14 at the foul line.
Talia Walton chipped in with 20 points, including a huge basket from beyond the arc, and Chantel Osahor had 15 rebounds and a pivotal 3-pointer down the stretch.
“Everything that we’ve done prepared us for this,” coach Mike Neighbors said. “We’ve been playing really good basketball the last month.”
The Huskies will next play third-seeded Kentucky on Friday in Lexington, Kentucky.
Washington led by eight points after the first quarter, gave the lead away by halftime but outscored Maryland 45-31 in the second half to eliminate a team looking for a fifth straight appearance in the Sweet 16 and, ultimately, its third successive trip to the Final Four.
“I thought we maybe played not to lose, instead of playing to win,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Tough lesson to have to learn.”
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Maryland.
After a long 3-pointer by Plum as the shot clock expired put Washington in front 52-44 with 9 minutes left, an upset appeared to be a distinct possibility.
Maryland cut the gap to three points, but Osahor answered with a flat-footed 3-pointer, Plum sank two free throws and added a three-point play for a 60-49 lead.
Two straight 3-pointers by Walker-Kimbrough cut it to 60-55, but Walton drilled a 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining to short-circuit the comeback.
The last time Washington went to the Sweet 16 was in 2001. The program is currently in rebuilding mode under Neighbors, who doesn’t have a senior in his starting lineup.
In this one, the Huskies focused on stuffing Maryland’s formidable inside game of Howard and Brionna Jones. The duo combined for eight points and nine rebounds, and Washington ended up outrebounding a team that came in with a nation-leading plus-15.7 rebounding margin.
After overcoming an early eight-point deficit to move in front at halftime, Maryland led 36-29 before the Huskies launched a 16-2 run fueled by reserve Mathilde Gilling, who made three layups.
The Terrapins had three baskets and five turnovers in the third quarter while being outscored 20-8.
“This stings a lot,” Frese said. “It was a tough shooting night for us; it was very uncharacteristic.”
Washington: The Huskies improved to 3-0 versus Maryland. They also won in 1990 and 1993. ... Walton, the only other Washington player averaging in double figures, went 7 for 18 from the floor. ... Gilling left with an apparent left leg injury in the closing minutes. Neighbors didn’t dismiss her availability for the rest of the tournament. “We’ll hope for the best,” he said.
Maryland: In her 14 years at Maryland, Frese has failed to advance to the Sweet 16 only seven times. ... Several members of the Maryland men’s team, just back from winning twice in Spokane, Washington, watched the game in seats behind the basket.
Washington: Friday night vs. Kentucky.
Maryland: Season over.