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Watkins' 30 points lifts USC to 1st Elite Eight in 30 years

Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Freshman All-American JuJu Watkins drove the length of the floor for a go-ahead three-point play with 3:13 left and finished with 30 points, leading top-seeded Southern California past Baylor 74-70 on Saturday and into the Elite Eight of the women's NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994.

Watkins scored nine straight points for the Trojans in the closing minutes and powered a decisive 8-0 run. McKenzie Forbes added 14 points for USC (29-5), which will face either third-seeded UConn or seventh-seeded Duke on Monday in the Portland 3 Region final for a spot in the Final Four.

Sarah Andrews scored 17 points for Baylor (26-8), which was making its 20th straight March Madness appearance and was vying for its first Elite Eight spot since 2021, Kim Mulkey's final season as coach of the Bears.

USC won national titles in 1983 and ‘84, but the Trojans’ deepest run in the tournament since was a regional final loss in 1994 under coach Cheryl Miller to Louisiana Tech.

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

Watkins — the nation's second-leading scorer behind Iowa's Caitlin Clark — missed 20 shots from the field, going 8 of 28 overall and 2 of 11 from 3-point range, but went 12 of 13 from the free-throw line.


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