JuJu Watkins sets record as USC routs Cal Poly, 85-44

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JuJu Watkins scored 30 points for her record-setting fourth 30-point game as a freshman and No. 6 USC routed Cal Poly 85-44 on Tuesday night.

Watkins broke a tie with Trojans greats Lisa Leslie and Paula McGee, who had three 30-point efforts in their freshman seasons. Watkins was 10 for 19 from the field and made all seven of her free throws to go with four rebounds, four assists and four turnovers.

Watkins had 32 points in her collegiate debut against Ohio State, then scored 35 against Le Moyne and 31 against Penn State.

It took a collision under the basket with Cal Poly’s Natalia Ackerman to get USC’s star freshman out of the game in the third quarter with the Trojans leading by 26 points.

The Mustangs scored nine points in a row while Watkins was in the locker room getting her right nostril plugged. She returned to the court with 36 seconds left in the third and made a pair of free throws.

The quarter ended with a bang when Kayla Padilla stole the ball and fed McKenzie Forbes, who chucked a three-pointer that swished through the net at the buzzer.

Playing with their highest ranking in the AP Top 25 poll in 29 years, the Trojans (6-0) made easy work of the overmatched Mustangs (2-5).

Harvard transfer Forbes scored 14 points and Rayah Marshall had 10 points for the Trojans, who had eight of their 10 players score.

Mary Carter led Cal Poly with 11 points and Sydney Bourland scored 10. The Mustangs committed 25 turnovers that led to 31 points for the Trojans.

Watkins scored nine of the Trojans’ first 12 points in the fourth. She made a three-pointer and converted a one-handed layup off her own steal before cheering on her teammates from the bench. She jumped up and down when Aaliyah Gayles made a three-point shot late. Gayles is playing for the first time this season after being shot multiple times at a house party in Las Vegas in 2022.

USC ran off 10 points in a row, including six by Watkins, in the second quarter on its way to a 42-20 halftime lead. The Trojans made five three-point shots in a row during a 15-2 run in the first quarter, getting two from Watkins.

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