JuJu Watkins scores 51, sets USC record in upset of No. 4 Stanford – Orange County Register

Feb 3, 2024 | Canyon Crest Guide Newspaper | 0 comments



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By JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer

STANFORD — JuJu Watkins added another memorable chapter to her dazzling freshman season.

Watkins scored a USC program record 51 points – the most in NCAA women’s basketball this season – and the 15th-ranked Trojans upset No. 4 Stanford, 67-58, on Friday night at Maples Pavilion.

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Watkins hit a key 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining and four free throws over the final 18 seconds to break the previous USC scoring mark of 50 set by Cherie Nelson against Cal on March 11, 1989. Watkins hit six 3-pointers to help the Trojans (15-4, 5-4) send the Cardinal (19-3, 8-2) to their first home loss of the season.

Watkins had 25 by halftime and finished 14 for 26 from the floor. Her 3-pointer with 5:52 left in the third quarter put her at 37 and gave USC a 43-35 lead – giving her more points than Stanford had total. Watkins came in averaging 25.8 points and Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer turned to freshman Courtney Ogden to try stopping her.

Stanford star Cameron Brink had 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots – swatting six shots in the first half. Her layup with 5:36 left pulled Stanford within six and she converted two free throws at 4:02 that made it 54-50 before Watkins took over once more.

And what a thrilling way for these two teams to begin the final weekend of the L.A. schools coming to the Bay Area for Pac-12 play before their move to the Big Ten. USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb returns to Berkeley on Sunday to face her former Cal program.

Kiki Iriafen contributed 16 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal, who lost for the first time in five games since a 71-59 defeat at Colorado on Jan. 14.

McKenzie Forbes added 12 points (on 5-for-18 shooting) for USC, which had lost three of four since beating UCLA on Jan. 14.

USC missed six straight shots and had a scoring drought of 4:31 before Watkins’ late 3-pointer that was reviewed and stood. The Trojans went on a 6-0 run late in the third as Stanford looked rushed and out of sorts during a 1-for-8 shooting stretch.

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Both teams endured extended scoring droughts.

USC went 5 minutes, 44 seconds between baskets in the first quarter – missing nine straight shots during a 1-for-11 stretch before Watkins connected on a jumper with 2:14 left in the opening period.

Watkins got on a roll from there, scoring 25 of her team’s first 31 points and shooting 9 for 13 after starting 1 for 5.

Stanford missed its final five shots of the first half spanning the closing 4 minutes and committed three turnovers for a 31-all tie at intermission as USC finished on a 6-0 burst.

BIG PICTURE

USC: Watkins outscored Stanford herself in the third quarter, 15-11. … The Trojans had lost the previous 19 meetings on Stanford’s home court in Maples Pavilion dating to a 62-59 victory on March 1, 2001.

Stanford: Dating to 1999-2000, the most points one player had scored against Stanford was Kelsey Plum’s 44 for Washington on Jan. 29, 2017, but Stanford rallied back from 18 points to win, 72-68, in Seattle. … This marked only the third time Stanford faced a ranked USC team since 1995-96, and first time with the Trojans in the top 15 since Stanford’s 80-50 home win against No. 6 USC on Feb. 24, 1994.

UP NEXT

USC plays at Cal on Sunday at noon.

Stanford hosts No. 7 UCLA on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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