Washington’s Aarion McDonald drives past Washington State’s Pinelopi Pavlopoulou during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington’s Aarion McDonald drives past Washington State’s Pinelopi Pavlopoulou during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

UW women rout Cougars 94-63 in Pac-12 opener

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington was waiting for Natalie Romeo to break out.

No better time than the start of conference play.

Romeo made five 3-pointers in the first half and finished with a season-high 25 points, and No. 9 Washington used a 26-0 run in the first half to race past rival Washington State 94-63 on Tuesday night.

The Huskies (13-1, 1-0 Pac-12) opened Pac-12 Conference play as the highest ranked Pac-12 team in the AP Top 25 and backed it up with a dominant performance against the Cougars that was led for a change by someone other than Kelsey Plum.

“We needed it out of her. I said before the game it would be great to get (Romeo) going here, going into Pac-12,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. “I think the ball hadn’t found her the past couple of games.”

Romeo, a transfer from Nebraska, knocked down 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first half and finished 7 of 12 behind the arc, one off her career-high of eight 3-pointers. She had not scored in double figures in any of the previous four games and just five times all season.

“It was great to have the ball find her tonight,” Neighbors said.

Plum, the national leader in scoring at 30.2 points per game finished with 21 points, continuing her streak of scoring at least 20 points in every game this season. Plum was the facilitator instead of the instigator for most of the night and especially during Washington’s dominant first-half run. Plum had seven assists in the first half and finished with nine, tying her career-high, and added eight rebounds.

Chantel Osahor added 18 points and 11 rebounds and Aarion McDonald scored 11 off the bench as Washington won its 10th straight since losing to Notre Dame.

“I think people kept encouraging (Romeo) throughout the week, ‘Just be ready to shoot. We’re going to find you. Be ready to shoot,’ ” Plum said. “She came to play tonight.”

Cameron Fernandez and Chanelle Molina led Washington State (5-7, 0-1) with 11 points each, but the Cougars shot 35 percent and were only 6 of 19 on 3-pointers.

Washington’s run started when Plum knocked down a 3-pointer as the first quarter buzzer sounded to give the Huskies a 27-18 lead. Washington State went scoreless for more than six minutes as the Huskies continued to hit shots form deep. Romeo hit three 3-pointers during the run, while Plum added another 3 and a 15-footer. Maria Kostourkova finally snapped the run with 3:47 left in the first half.

Washington outscored the Cougars 32-6 in the second quarter and the lead reached 41 in the second half.

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