Watkins scores 18 on off-shooting night as No. 10 USC beats 11th-ranked Oregon State 58-50

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — JuJu Watkins scored 18 points, despite having an off-shooting night, and helped No. 10 Southern Cal beat 11th-ranked Oregon State 58-50 on Sunday.

The 6-foot-2 freshman guard, who is the second-leading scorer in Division 1 behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, was just 6 of 32 from the field in her worst shooting performance of the season.

Despite Watkins’ struggles on the offensive end, USC (20-4, 10-4 Pac-12) extended its winning streak to six games, while the Beavers’ six-game winning streak came to an end.

“She had a rough shooting night. Her teammates had her back,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb said of Watkins, who is averaging 28 points per game. “She still went to the boards. She still makes winning plays and if we can win when she’s not at her best scoring the ball, I think that says a lot about our team.”

Oregon State (21-4, 10-4 Pac-12) has defended Watkins well in both meetings this season. In USC’s 58-56 home win over the Beavers on Jan. 5, Watkins scored 28 points on 11 of 33 from the field.

Oregon State junior guards Talia von Oelhoffen and AJ Marotte had the primary defensive assignment on Watkins, but they had plenty of help.

“We played her really well down there as well,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “Stay in front. That’s really the trick.”

Watkins had few uncontested looks in the game, and her mid-range jumper wasn’t falling.

“Obviously she’s a great player,” von Oelhoffen said. “You’re not going to stop her from getting the ball or from getting shots up. Just taking her out of her A game and her B game, getting her to that C game and doing what you can to impact the shot. Just staying in the way the whole game, making her uncomfortable.”

Oregon State makes most teams uncomfortable on the defensive end. The Beavers lead the Pac-12 and rank fifth nationally in opponents field goal percentage.

Rayah Marshall added 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Trojans, who never trailed. McKenzie Forbes also was in double figures with 13 points.

Watkins contributed 11 rebounds and the Trojans had a 51-36 rebounding advantage, with 18 offensive boards.

“JuJu still brings so much energy whether she’s scoring or not. She’s still going to play defensively and she’s a great teammate,” Marshall said. “Also for us this game was very meaningful and we wanted to come out here and get a sweep.”

It was the first home loss of the season for Beavers, who played without leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers.

Oregon State’s sophomore post sustained a facial injury early in the second quarter of Friday’s win over No. 9 UCLA. She was on the Beavers’ bench for Sunday’s game, but not in uniform and the team missed her inside presence. Beers is averaging 17.5 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Rueck said “hopefully soon” when asked about Beers’ return to the lineup.

The Beavers made things interesting down the stretch.

Lily Hansford’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 55-50 with 43 seconds left, but the Beavers would not get closer.

Timea Gardiner scored all 22 of her points in the second half and she pulled down nine rebounds to pace Oregon State. Von Oelhoffen, who made the game-winning 3-pointer in the Beavers’ 79-77 victory over UCLA on Friday, had six points and 10 assists.

USC took its biggest lead at 38-25 on Kaitlyn Davis’ layup midway through the third quarter.

Watkins scored 12 first-half points on 4 of 20 from the field with nine rebounds as the Trojans led 26-20 at the break. USC led by as much as 11 points in the first half, and their largest lead was 13 points midway through the third quarter.


Southern California: The Trojans swept the regular season series against Oregon State after winning the first matchup 58-56 at home on Jan. 5. With six wins in a row USC has momentum entering the final two weeks of the regular season.

Oregon State: The Beavers have five wins over ranked teams. Despite Sunday’s setback, they are a lock to be back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2020-21 season. Depth continues to be an asset for Oregon State.


USC: The Trojans will be at home Friday against No. 8 Colorado.

Oregon State: The Beavers will be at Washington State on Friday.


AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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