JuJu Watkins scores 30, powers USC past Baylor for spot in Elite Eight-ZoomTech News

With the Elite Eight at stake and Southern California tied 64-all towards Baylor with below 4 minutes left, Trojans All-America freshman JuJu Watkins shook off her taking pictures woes and took over.

“It was only a matter of turning the sport round,” Watkins stated. “And I knew I needed to do one thing.”

Watkins drove the size of the ground for a go-ahead three-point play with 3:13 left and completed with 30 factors, main top-seeded USC previous Baylor 74-70 on Saturday and into the Elite Eight of the Ladies’s NCAA Event for the primary time in 30 years.

Watkins scored 9 straight factors for the Trojans within the closing minutes and powered a decisive 8-0 run. McKenzie Forbes added 14 factors and Rayah Marshall had 11 factors and 16 rebounds for USC (29-5), which can face both third-seeded UConn or seventh-seeded Duke on Monday within the Portland 3 Area ultimate for a spot within the Closing 4.

“It actually boils all the way down to the belief that everyone has in me,” Watkins stated. “Regardless of me not taking pictures effectively tonight, I feel that when the sport is on the road, I feel my teammates belief me to go get a bucket. Fortunately, we got here out on prime of that one.”

Sarah Andrews scored 17 factors for Baylor (26-8), which was making its twentieth straight March Insanity look and was vying for its first Elite Eight spot since 2021, Kim Mulkey’s ultimate season as coach of the Bears.

USC received nationwide titles in 1983 and ‘84, however the Trojans’ deepest run within the match since was a regional ultimate loss in 1994 below coach Cheryl Miller to Louisiana Tech.

Watkins surpassed Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell (873 factors in 2014-15) for second on the all-time freshman scoring checklist. The 18-year-old Los Angeles native has 891 factors, seven shy of the document set by San Diego State’s Tina Hutchinson in 1984.

Watkins — the nation’s second-leading scorer behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark — missed 20 photographs from the sphere, going 8-of-28 total and 2-of-11 from 3-point vary, however went 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.

“It is nonetheless growing,” Watkins stated about her recreation. “Although I had 30, it wasn’t my greatest night time. Clearly, [I’m] simply doing no matter it’s to win. That is [the] precedence all the time. Whether or not it is defensively making the appropriate performs, getting off the decide, simply doing no matter I have to do.”

The Trojans led by 11 factors within the opening half, however Baylor closed the hole within the third quarter and moved in entrance 50-49 on Andrews’ 3-pointer.

Jada Walker hit consecutive baskets to provide the Bears a 57-53 lead going into the fourth. USC shortly regained the lead, 59-57, on Forbes’ 3-pointer with 9:08 left.

Jada Walker’s jumper gave Baylor a 62-59 lead with 4:51 to go. Watkins’ fast-break layup and subsequent free throw put the Trojans forward to remain, 67-64.

Andrews made two 3s within the ultimate minutes, banking one in with 23 seconds to go, however the Bears acquired no nearer, thanks partially to Watkins’ free-throw taking pictures.

“They did not need to give us 5 extra minutes, as a result of it may need been a distinct end result,” Andrews stated. “We gave all of it we acquired. They hit some large photographs, and we had been simply taking part in within the second. We’re not taking place with no struggle.”

It was Watkins’ 14th recreation this season with 30 or extra factors. She had 28 factors and 11 rebounds in a 73-55 victory over Kansas to succeed in the Candy 16.

Watkins has already set USC’s single-season scoring document — for males or ladies.

The Bears used physicality to counter USC’s measurement benefit and jumped to an early 7-2 lead. The Trojans, led by Watkins with eight factors, had an 18-16 lead after the opening quarter.

USC stretched the result in 24-19, however Edwards responded with a 3-pointer. The Trojans pulled forward 35-24 late within the second interval and led 37-31 on the half.

“I assumed we made some errors and there is all the time going to be slippage in a recreation this large,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen stated. “They acquired a heavy dose of Baylor basketball within the second half.”

Reporting by The Related Press.

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