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Recap: JuJu Watkins, No. 9 USC end No. 2 UCLA’s unbeaten streak

It was another close matchup between the Los Angeles rivals. This time, the Women of Troy came out on top

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 14 Women’s - UCLA at USC
UCLA’s Charisma Osborne and USC’s JuJu Watkins both had stellar scoring performances as the Trojans topped the Bruins in the second showdown between the LA squads.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Led by JuJu Watkins' 32-point performance, the No. 9 USC Trojans (13-1, 3-1) bested the No. 2 UCLA Bruins (14-1, 3-1) 73-65 at home. The Trojans not only earned a Pac-12 victory over their biggest rival, but also handed the Bruins their first loss of the season.

Watkins was the engine that kept the Trojans going, but she wasn't out there alone. Kayla Padilla scored 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and McKenzie Forbes added 18 points of her own, including going 3-for-5 from deep. The Bruins played catch up the entire game, never getting into a grove or having any control. Charisma Osborne got going in the second half and ended the night with 25 points, but no one else found a rhythm for UCLA.

UCLA will have to process this loss and prepare quickly for another tough game against No. 5 Colorado on the road. The Buffaloes just beat No. 8 Stanford and are better than expected. USC won't have it much easier as they head to Utah to face Alissa Pili and No. 19 Utah. The Pac-12 is as tough as nails this year.

The first quarter wasn't a stellar display of basketball. Both teams struggled shooting from the field, with USC going 3-for-14 and UCLA shooting 4-for-16. The Trojans came out on top after the opening frame, leading 15-8.

USC stayed in control in the second quarter as the Bruins still couldn't get going. Lauren Betts was a player the Bruins were counting on to step up, but her 10 points and three rebounds didn't make a big enough impact to help the Bruins rally back. In the third, Osborne got going and began her offensive onslaught; all 25 of her points came during the second half. UCLA couldn't take the lead, but they headed to the fourth down by just nine.

With minutes left in the game, UCLA made one final push and got within four points, but with the time ticking away, they were forced to play the foul game. USC went 6-for-7 from the charity stripe in the final minute to hold on for the win.

Key takeaways

These two teams have played twice already, and both games were tight, with the home team coming out victorious. They are evenly matched squads and likely will be in a three-team race for the Pac-12 title with Colorado.

Watkins did what she had to do to help her team win—go aggressively at the basket and get to the foul line. As long as she’s on the floor, USC can beat any team in the country and eliminating them will be a difficult task. UCLA needs a balanced inside-outside attack. Osborne brought it late, but had they gotten something in the first half maybe Saturday’s result is different. Betts needs to help clean up the glass as well. Lots of opportunities in that opening quarter to keep possession and get second chance opportunities were lost simply because they didn’t grab the boards.

Both games gave us some fantastic, competitive Pac-12 action. And with how good these games were, it looks like the Pac-12 will go out with a bang.