Home Latest News In college debut, Watkins nets 32 in USC’s victory

In college debut, Watkins nets 32 in USC’s victory

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In college debut, Watkins nets 32 in USC’s victory

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LAS VEGAS — Freshman JuJu Watkins scored 32 points in her college debut, lifting No. 21 Southern California over No. 7 Ohio State 83-74 on Monday in the season opener for both teams.

“I’m lost for words right now, I’m still kind of processing everything,” Watkins said. “But at the end of the day, this whole team is a bunch of ballers, so whenever we get the chance to compete against a top-10 team, any team really, we’re ready, we prep the right way, we do what we need to do, and we get out on the court and we show the world what we can do.”

Watkins, one of the nation’s highest-regarded incoming freshmen, finished 11-of-18 from the floor with six rebounds and five assists.

Watkins made her first college bucket a little more than a minute into the game and went on to score 16 points in the first half.

Rayah Marshall had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Trojans, while McKenzie Forbes scored 11 points.

“They’re just really consistent people, they’re consistent players,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “They don’t get easily rattled.”

Jacy Sheldon led the Buckeyes with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and Taylor Thierry scored 16.

After seeing their 19-point lead disappear when Ohio State outscored them 30-10 in the third quarter, the Trojans opened the fourth on a 13-4 run to seize control and hold off the Buckeyes.

USC shot an impressive 12-of-18 in the second quarter and finished the first half hitting 18-of-35, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range.

After hitting a lukewarm 35.2% from the floor in the first quarter, the Buckeyes went ice cold and shot just 2-of-10 in the second quarter.

Marshall didn’t make it easy on the Buckeyes, as she had four steals in the second and converted two of them into breakaway buckets. The Trojans finished with 10 points off turnovers in the first half, and outscored Ohio State in the paint 26-6. USC also dominated the Buckeyes on the boards, outrebounding them 27-11.

“We didn’t come out with energy like we normally do and ready to go, and they did,” Sheldon said.

Las Vegas’ Aaliyah Gayles, who was shot more than a dozen times in April 2022, dressed for USC but did not play.

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