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Huskies’ Kelsey Plum punishes Cougars in Pac-12 opener

PULLMAN – The eye-opening hot start to Washington State’s season has been largely due to the Cougars’ successfully applying coach June Daugherty’s exhortation to “create chaos.”

“That didn’t happen tonight,” Daugherty said after the Cougars’ 79-64 loss to Washington in front of 837 fans on Tuesday night.

The pinpoint accuracy of Kelsey Plum, the nation’s leading scorer, and teammate Brianna Ruiz proved too much for the Cougars in both team’s Pac-12 Conference opener.

Daugherty blamed a lack of energy for WSU’s inability to keep up with UW’s high-powered offense.

“I think we know as a team that we kind of beat ourselves tonight more than anything,” said Taylor Edmondson. “We need to come out next time better, have a better start.”

“That’s uncharacteristic of this team,” said Mariah Cooks. “And so I know that come Saturday when we play the Utes we’ll definitely play to our energy level.”

After a slow offensive start – the teams combined to make just two of their first 14 shots – Plum began to heat up from the outside. When the WSU defense would collapse on the junior guard, Plum frequently found Ruiz spotting up along the 3-point line for a deep shot of her own.

Despite going scoreless for the game’s first five minutes, Plum led all scorers with 33 points, making 5 of 7 3-point attempts, and Ruiz chipped in 12, finishing 4 of 7 from behind the arc. Floor-stretching forward Talia Walton made three 3-pointers herself, and as a team, the Huskies shot 44.4 percent (12 of 27) from 3-point range.

The Huskies’ sharpshooting trio built a sizable enough lead to weather WSU’s fourth-quarter run, when Borislava Hristova, WSU’s freshman leading scorer, had a steal, assist and two baskets to cut UW’s lead to 12. UW entered the quarter leading 63-43.

Cooks, who led the Cougars with 20 points, also made a pair of jump shots and a 3-pointer during WSU’s fourth-quarter run.

The win is UW’s second consecutive victory in its streaky series with the Cougars. Prior to last year’s 83-43 UW victory in Pullman, the Cougars had won three straight against the Huskies. Prior to that streak, the Cougars had not beaten the Huskies in 36 consecutive games.

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