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JuJu Watkins scores 30 points and USC routs San Diego to stay undefeated

Southern California guard JuJu Watkins watches for the ball during the second half.
JuJu Watkins, shown here earlier this season, is off to a remarkable start to her college career.
(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)
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For the fifth time in seven games, JuJu Watkins scored 30 points and the season isn’t quite a month old.

Watkins led No. 6 USC to an 89-58 rout of San Diego on Sunday.

She had already broken WNBA Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie’s record of four 30-point games by a USC freshman in program history. Watkins reached the mark on a three-pointer in the game’s final three minutes. She made all six of her free throws and had eight rebounds and five assists.

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“She has it all,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “At her size, with her skill set, we haven’t seen in women’s basketball very often. Her passing, her vision, her ability to score, shoot the three, get to the rim, there really is not a lot that she doesn’t have.”

JuJu Watkins scored 30 points for her record-setting fourth 30-point game of her freshman season in easy win for Trojans.

Nov. 29, 2023

The Trojans (7-0) put away the Toreros in the second quarter.

Watkins scored 11 straight points to stretch a five-point lead into a 16-point advantage. She scored off her own steal and then grabbed a defensive rebound, raced downcourt, brushed off a defender and hit a three-pointer for a 36-20 lead.

Rayah Marshall added 20 points and 12 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive boards for USC. The Trojans had a 60-32 advantage in the paint and outscored 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 had 12 points, including seven in a row in the first quarter, for USC.

“Just being aggressive,” Forbes said. “I was in the right spots and I’m encouraged to take those shots when I’m open.”

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Kayla Williams and Taylor Bigby followed with back-to-back three-pointers, and the Trojans led 48-28 at the break.

Kylie Horstmeyer tied her career high with 18 points to lead the Toreros (3-5), who committed 18 turnovers. They tried double-teaming Watkins, but she usually found a way to the basket or passed to an open teammate.

Watkins had eight points in the third, reeling off six in a row, and USC extended its lead to 67-42 with Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller applauding the freshman from courtside.

San Diego kept it close in the first quarter when both teams shot 53% from the floor. It wasn’t until the Trojans closed with six straight points that they owned their largest lead of the period, 23-17.

“When they came out with that momentum, it was like a moment of reality for us, so we just embraced that and stepped up to the challenge to compete,” Marshall said.

Up next for USC: Hosts UC Riverside on Dec. 10.

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