BOULDER, Colo. — When the Washington Huskies found themselves in a rare close game, they knew exactly who to turn to: Kelsey Plum and Chantel Osahor.
The two senior standouts led 10th-ranked Washington to a 79-75 victory over Colorado in Pac-12 women’s basketball action Sunday afternoon.
Plum scored 28 points and Osahor added 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Huskies, who have won eight of their past nine games.
The Huskies (22-3, 10-2 in Pac-12 play) haven’t played many close games this season. Only one of their previous 21 victories was by single digits, but the Buffaloes made them work for their second win in less than 48 hours.
“That’s what’s going to help you win in March,” said Osahor, who collected her 20th double-double of the season. “Putting us in those type of situations and staying poised, that’s good for us.”
Osahor and Plum did most of the damage on offense but they got help. Katie Collier had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Aarion McDonald scored 14.
The Huskies, who routed Utah on Friday, played their second straight game at altitude and Plum played all but three of the 80 minutes. She came into Sunday shooting 53 percent from the floor and finished 11-of-24 against Colorado.
“We knew coming in they play a limited amount of players and this altitude is our best friend,” Colorado’s Makenzie Ellis said. “We could tell they were having a hard time.”
Colorado (13-10, 3-9) hung around after falling behind by double digits in the first half. The Huskies led 54-37 midway through the third when Osahor picked up her fourth foul. Colorado scored 11 straight points, capped by Kennedy Leonard’s 3-pointer.
“That was also the time the altitude (hit),” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said of Osahor departure. “We have to answer the call when it happens.”
The Huskies did.
They stretched their lead back to 14 early in the fourth quarter, but Colorado went on an 11-1 run to get within four, the closest it had been since early in the second quarter.
The Buffaloes had a chance to get within a possession but missed a layup and Plum scored five points as the Huskies stretched the lead to 72-61 with 3:29 remaining and closed out the game from there.
“Ten (points) doesn’t look close but it feels close,” Plum said. “Almost every game in the Pac-12 is competitive. We knew they were going to go on a run, they always go on a run. We got enough stops and we got in the paint and got some good looks.”
Colorado tried to keep the game close in the first half but the combination of Osahor and Plum kept Washington comfortably ahead. The pair combined for 29 of the Huskies’ 42 points through the first 20 minutes.
Plum, the nation’s leading scorer at 30.9 points a game, didn’t take a shot for the first four minutes and then scored seven quick points to put Washington ahead for good. Her 14th point of the first half came during a 9-0 run that gave the Huskies a 36-23 lead with 5:05 left.
“Tremendous effort by our team,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “We played one of the best teams in the country and the best scorer and rebounder in the country and we went toe-to-toe with them.”
Leonard and Alexis Robinson led Colorado with 19 points each. Ellis scored 18.