Juju Watkins nets fifth 30-point game in win over San Diego
December 7, 2023
LOS ANGELES - She is a modern-day Rembrandt painting in vivid hues through a remarkable streak at the start of this season. JuJu Watkins is weaving a narrative that's turning heads. For the fifth time in seven games Watkins has scored 30 points or more for the 7-0 Lady Trojans basketball team.
Last Sunday, the No. 6 ranked Southern California team cruised to an 89-58 victory over San Diego, led by the phenomenal Watkins. She's already etched her name in USC lore, surpassing the legendary Lisa Leslie's record of four 30-point games by a freshman. She hit that mark with a three-pointer in the final three minutes, showcasing sheer brilliance.
USC head coach Lindsay Gottlieb couldn't contain her admiration. "She's got it all. Her size, skill set, it's a rarity in women's basketball. Passing, vision, scoring ability, three-pointers, driving to the rim, she's a complete package."
The Trojans ran away from the Toreros in the second quarter. After a tightly contested first quarter, with both teams shooting 53% from the floor, and USC nursing a five-point lead, Watkins scored 11 straight points to push the lead to 16 in the second quarter.
The game wasn't solely about Watkins, though. USC's Rayah Marshall chipped in with 20 points and 12 rebounds, displaying a grittiness that's becoming synonymous with the Trojans. USC outscored San Diego 60-32 in the paint and outpaced the Toreros 17-8 in fastbreak points.
"We're trying to be as hard to guard as we can possibly be," Gottlieb said. "We know we have 3-point shooters; we have kids that can penetrate, and we have some really incredible scorers in the paint. I thought that was important we asserted our will a little bit in that space."
McKenzie Forbes and her aggressive playstyle was the fuel for those crucial points. Forbes netted 12 points for the Trojans and trailed only Watkins with a +25 plus/minus.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing. San Diego attempted to contain and corral Watkins, double-teaming her, yet she found a way to either get to the basket or by setting up her teammates. The Toreros' efforts resulted in 18 Trojan turnovers, but USC's ability to overcome is a testament to their sheer determination.
Looking ahead, USC will prepare to host UC Riverside on Sunday, December 10 at 3:30 p.m. and Monday, December 18, they host Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m.