JuJu Watkins scores 42 points in No. 7 USC’s 7th straight win, 87-81 over 11th-ranked Colorado

JuJu Watkins scored 42 points and No. 7 Southern California defeated 11th-ranked Colorado 87-81 on Friday night for the Trojans’ seventh consecutive victory.

The freshman sensation made all 18 of her free throws and hit four 3-pointers in her second-highest scoring game of the season. She had 51 points in a win at then-No. 4 Stanford on Feb. 2. Her latest effort was her 11th game of 30 or more points.

Watkins committed a season-worst 10 of USC’s 19 turnovers. She was assessed a flagrant foul in the third after a left arm to the face of Jaylyn Sherrod.

McKenzie Forbes added 24 points, making five 3-pointers, and seven assists for the Trojans (21-4, 11-4 Pac-12). Kayla Padilla had 12 points, making four of her five 3-pointers and USC improved to 14-1 at home.

A joyous Forbes dribbled out the final seconds and then happily bumped Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller on the sideline.

Aaronette Vonleh scored 18 points before fouling out with 4:47 remaining and Quay Miller had 12 points for the Buffaloes (20-6, 10-5), who lost their third in a row.

The win avenged USC’s 63-59 loss at Colorado last month.

Forbes’ 3-pointer gave USC its largest lead of the game, 84-69 in the fourth.

After Watkins’ flagrant, the Buffs got two free throws and possession during an 11-0 run that gave them a 57-53 lead.

From there, Watkins, Kaitlyn Davis and Forbes combined to outscore the Buffs 14-6 and go into the fourth back in front, 67-61.

Sherrod fouled out in the fourth, finishing with 11 points and six assists.

Watkins scored 22 points in the first half, when she had six turnovers. On one play, she stole the ball but slipped and fell and got called for traveling, one of several times she ended up on the floor. Watkins changed her jersey to No. 32 from her usual 12 during a timeout in the fourth.

The second quarter turned into a 3-point shootout. The Trojans hit seven, including six in a row. Padilla and Forbes made three each. The Buffs made five, including four in a row to go into halftime trailing 47-43.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado: The Buffs end the regular season at home against the Washington schools, both of which have sub.-500 league records. They opened the season with an upset of then-No. 1 LSU and are seeking to make their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

USC: The Trojans travel to the Arizona schools — both with losing records — to end the regular season. They’re trying to lock up a top-four seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, which would earn them a first-round bye.

UP NEXT

Colorado: Visits No. 12 UCLA on Monday.

USC: Hosts No. 18 Utah on Sunday.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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