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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Plum’s effort should encourage Arizona women’s basketball fans

Carmen Valenica

Washington’s Kelsey Plum (10) blocks out Arizona’s Destiny Graham (21) during the Arizona vs. Washington women’s basketball game on Jan. 13. Plum scored 36 points in the win for the Huskies.

The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team threw the kitchen sink at Washington Husky star Kelsey Plum, but nothing worked as Plum dropped 36 points on 12-of-19 shooting.  This isn’t a sign of failure, instead it is a snapshot of what head coach Adia Barnes is trying to build at Arizona.

“They play hard for her,” Plum said. “She is a great coach and a great leader, and I think the sky is the limit for her and her program.”

Barnes said in the post game press conference that she wish she had a player like Plum on her team and joked that had she been here earlier, she would have recruited Plum in the fifth grade.

“Players like her and Chantel [Osahor] don’t come around often,” Barnes said.

Plum was smooth on the court and played with a focus that UA fans haven’t seen in their own for quite some time. It didn’t take long for the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer to get into a groove as she hit her first two of three 3-point shots and had 10 points in the first quarter. 

Her ability to keep her teammates involved, get her shots and have the endurance to play 39 minutes speaks a lot to the player she is, and it was on display for the McKale Center crowd to see in its full glory.

Plum became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer at the beginning of December, but became the Pac-12’s first player, man or woman, to cross the 3,000 career points threshold and she did it in front of the person who recruited her from the same hometown, Adia Barnes.

“It is great for women’s basketball,” Barnes said. “I was happy to see her accomplish that for sure and I knew she was going to. I think she is going to break more records before she is all done.”

The Wildcats knew what Plum was capable of, they threw every defense possible at her, but still she kept coming. In the game’s opening minutes the Wildcats lost track of her and she made them pay by hitting two shots from deep, there goes man-to-man. After a quick timeout, Barnes employed a box-and-one which is designed to have one defender shadow Plum everywhere she goes while the rest of the team plays zone defense. Plum shredded the Wildcats with passing and drives to continue her output, bye box-and-one. The final straw was an attempt at zone, which Plum simply penetrated and scored at the basket while drawing foul after foul, going to the free throw line 11 times hitting 10, bye zone.

Through it all Plum maintained her composure and took her team to an easy win over a coach she adores. At the same time, Barnes maintains that same focus and composure, which should encourage Arizona fans about the future possibilities of the women’s basketball team. Barnes was the key recruiter for Plum, and if she has an eye for a talent like that perhaps she has an eye on better times for a once beleaguered program.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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