By Eric Lambkins II
Sports Reporter 

Watkins continues to lead the USC women's basketball team

 

December 21, 2023

George Laase

USC's McKenzie Forbes drives to the basket against UC Riverside last Sunday at USC. The Lady Trojans host Cal State Fullerton on Monday at 7 p.m.

In the heart of Los Angeles there was a player born with more than just skills. Juju Watkins was raised on grit and purpose. That same unwavering determination shone bright last Sunday, catching the attention of LeBron James and his daughter, Zhuri, who stuck around after watching Bronny James make his collegiate debut after suffering cardiac arrest in the summer.

Watkins, the freshman phenom and the second-leading scorer in the nation, scored her season average 27 points in 28 minutes and recorded five assists and five steals to lead No. 6 Southern California (8-0, 0-0 Pac-12) to an 85-53 victory over UC Riverside (4-4, 0-0 Big West) before 4,201 at the Galen Center on the USC campus.

The Trojans took their cue from their rising star and played with a chip on their shoulder, stifling the Highlanders and holding them to 36.7 percent shooting from the field. USC shot 55.9 percent from the field on 33 of 59 shots, the second highest-scoring effort of the season.

Rayah Marshall notched her fifth double-double of the season for the Trojans with 11 points and 12 rebounds. The women of Troy hit six of their last six field goals going into the break, tying a season record for most points in the first half with 48 and set a season record 32-point lead at the half.

"I really challenged the team, as I would say, to be juicy, have a lot of energy," USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "Some of this crowd had never seen us before and we wanted to make sure that we represented ourselves."

Jordan Webster led UC Riverside with 20 points, including five 3-pointers, and Matehya Bryant had 14 points for the Highlanders.

The Trojans will face two more Big West opponents, Cal State Fullerton on Monday, December 18 at 7 p.m. at home and Long Beach State on the road on Thursday, December 21, at 2 p.m. On Saturday, December 30, at 5 p.m. they square off against the No. 2 UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion. This will be the first time in history that the Trojans and Bruins will be playing each other being this highly ranked.

Follow Eric on X @elambsquared and on Instagram @elamb5quared.

 

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