LEXINGTON, Ky. -- So will Washington fly back to Seattle before Sunday's regional final?
The frequent flyer miles seem to be working rather well so far.
Pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament, No. 7 seed Washington beat third-seeded Kentucky 85-72 in Rupp Arena on Friday to advance to the Elite Eight. The Huskies knocked off the Wildcats on one of Kentucky's two home courts in Lexington a week after the Pac-12 team also stunned second-seeded Maryland on its home court.
Giving his team a say on the matter, Washington coach Mike Neighbors elected to fly home between the win in College Park and the sequel in Lexington. No one will argue with that plan now.
Washington's Talia Walton led the Huskies with 30 points, and All-American Kelsey Plum added 23 points and seven assists. Kentucky's Makayla Epps scored 30 points, but it wasn't enough to earn her team a fourth home game in the tournament or a shot at its first Final Four.
Washington becomes the sixth No. 7 seed to reach a regional final. It is the program's second appearance in a regional final and first since 2001.
Player of the game: Walton would be an entirely worthy choice. From the 3-point line, off the dribble and on an array of turnaround jumpers, her all-court scoring overshadowed even Plum, one of the nation's leading scorers. But like a great soccer midfielder, Chantel Osahor was the dominant influence on the game even without scoring the most points. The offense ran best when she was at the top of the key, making the pass that led to a shot, or the pass that led to the pass that led to the shot. The defense was best when she anchored the zone. And she accounted for more than a third of Washington's rebounds. She finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. The Wildcats paid the price for not being able to turn her first-half foul trouble into a game-long issue.
How it was won: The most obvious recipe for a postseason upset is for an underdog to continue to do everything it normally does well -- and do something else better than normal. That's pretty much what the Huskies did. Their zone dictated how Kentucky played the entire game -- even when the Wildcats played well in spurts, they did so only through what the zone gave them. It was a game played on Washington's terms on that end of the court. On the offensive end, Washington hit 11 3-pointers and shot nearly 40 percent from the arc to stretch Kentucky and take pressure off Plum. Defend well, shoot well, pass well. It is a plan that works well.
Turning point: Kentucky had the ball and a five-point deficit after Washington missed a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. But when an Epps' miss that could have trimmed the deficit to a single possession turned into a Plum layup on a beautiful backdoor play with Osahor at the other end, Washington went on a 7-0 run that put the Wildcats right back in the hole they had attempted to climb out of on a run to end the first half. The Wildcats made several more mini-runs, but they never got to within five points the rest of the way.
X factor: A day before the game, Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said teams that take a lot of 3-pointers against Washington don't tend to fare well. The statistical evidence in support of that was a little mixed, but it looked downright prophetic as Kentucky dug itself a hole early in Friday's game. Kentucky averaged 12.9 three-pointers per game in its first 32 contests. The Wildcats took nine in the first quarter Friday and made just one.
The Wildcats eventually started to get the ball inside and into seams, but those early misfires put them on the back foot from the outset.
Stat of the day: While Rupp is only Kentucky's part-time home, Washington becomes the first team to win on the road in the Sweet 16 since 2005, when North Carolina beat Arizona State. But this isn't even Washington's most impressive win on the road this postseason. That's mind-boggling.
What's next: Washington awaits the winner between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 4 Stanford, the second game of the day in Lexington. The Huskies are 1-2 in the all-time series against the Fighting Irish, last meeting in the 2004-05 season. There is obviously more history with Stanford. The Huskies beat the Cardinal in the Pac-12 tournament this season but lost 17 of the previous 18 meetings in the series.