JuJu Watkins sets new USC single-season record, leads Trojans to NCAA tournament-opening win

JuJu Watkins sets new USC single-season record, leads Trojans to NCAA tournament-opening win
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The USC Trojans women’s basketball team took advantage of playing their opening-round game of the NCAA tournament at home Saturday.

Superstar freshman JuJu Watkins and senior guard McKenzie Forbes each had 23 points to lead No. 1 seed USC to an 87-55 blowout win over the 16-seed Texas A&M Corpus Christi at the Galen Center. It’s the program’s first NCAA tournament victory since 2006.

The Trojans came storming out of the gate and held a 21-4 lead over the outmatched Islanders after the opening quarter and never looked back. USC has a dominant defensive performance, holding Texas A&M Corpus Christi to just 33.3% from the field, and 2-of-13 from the 3-point line.

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Kayla Padilla #45 and McKenzie Forbes #25 of the USC Trojans celebrate on the bench in the second half against the Texas A&M-CC Islanders during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Kayla Padilla #45 and McKenzie Forbes #25 of the USC Trojans celebrate on the bench in the second half against the Texas A&M-CC Islanders during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Annukka Willstedt #30 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders drives past JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Annukka Willstedt #30 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders drives past JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Rayah Marshall #13 of the USC Trojans defends a shot by Alecia Westbrook #13 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders in the first half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: Rayah Marshall #13 of the USC Trojans defends a shot by Alecia Westbrook #13 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders in the first half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans is defended by Annukka Willstedt #30 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 23: JuJu Watkins #12 of the USC Trojans is defended by Annukka Willstedt #30 of the Texas A&M-CC Islanders in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Galen Center on March 23, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Watkins also added another record to her long list of accomplishments during her first year as a Trojan. The 6’2″ guard passed the legendary Cheryl Miller for most points in a single season by a USC player. Miller set the then-record in 1986.

The Sierra Canyon grad is up to 833 points total for the season, which ranks third all-time among freshmen in NCAA history. Watkins is 40 points behind Kelsey Mitchell for second, who recorded 873 points for Ohio State during the 2014-15 season, and 65 points behind San Diego State’s Tina Hutchinson, who set the record for freshmen scoring in 1983-84.

Watkins was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, averaging 27 points per game, which led the conference and was second-best in the nation.

The Trojans will take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the Portland 3 Region at the Galen Center on Monday.

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