JuJu Watkins made the most of her second shot at UCLA on Sunday.
Watkins led No. 9 USC to a 73-65 win over No. 2 UCLA at the Galen Center. She dropped 32 points and had 10 rebounds, despite shooting 0-of-6 from behind the arc, and helped lock down the Bruins' offense for much of the game. UCLA was one of two undefeated programs in the country headed into Sunday's game. Now only top-ranked South Carolina remains.
The first quarter wasn’t great offensively for either team, but USC got the jump. They opened the game on an extended 15-8 run and held the Bruins to a single layup in the final six minutes of the period. USC shut down UCLA for a nearly six-minute stretch in the second quarter, too, which allowed it to push ahead to a 15-point lead at halftime.
By then, it was too late. The Bruins slowly chipped away at USC’s lead in the third quarter and briefly cut it back to four points after a 9-0 run late in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough. Watkins hit a midrange jumper, and Taylor Bigby sank a layup less than a minute later to push the Trojans right back in control and eventually to the eight-point win.
Charisma Osborne led the Bruins with 25 points, though she also went 0-of-6 from behind the arc. She was the only UCLA starter to hit double figures. Gabriela Jaquez and Lauren Betts added 10 points each off the bench. The Bruins went 4-of-21 from 3-point range as a team, three of which belonged to Jaquez.
UCLA quickly climbed up the rankings this season with a number of big wins early on, including over then-No. 6 UConn and Florida State, Ohio State and even USC last month. The Bruins’ schedule won’t get any easier from here, as they’ll have to travel to No. 5 Colorado and No. 19 Utah next week.
McKenzie Forbes added 18 points for USC after Watkins’ 32-point performance. Kayla Padilla finished with 13 points. The Trojans made just one more 3-pointer as a team than the Bruins did, but they forced 22 turnovers as a unit. Their win snapped a nine-game losing streak to UCLA in the crosstown rivalry.
USC improved to 13-1 this season with the win, with the Trojans’ lone loss coming to UCLA. They also have Utah and Colorado, though in reverse order, on the road next week.
While both editions of the Los Angeles rivalry are now finished for the regular season, a potential tiebreaker battle in the final Pac-12 tournament would be a lot of fun to watch come March.