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5 takeaways from USC women’s basketball’s gigantic win over UCLA

The USC Trojans women’s basketball team had the Galen Center jam-packed for a top-10 showdown with the undefeated UCLA Bruins on Sunday. By the end of it, Lindsay Gottlieb’s team walked away with the 73-65 victory, handing UCLA its first loss of the season. 

Even with the Trojans a bit shorthanded, they found a way to win. JuJu Watkins once again looked like one of the best players in the sport.

The Trojans now move to 13-1 and should surely move up the seed list for the NCAA Tournament. USC solidified itself as a legitimate top-10 team which will get a high seed in March. There is a lot to like from this game. Here are five takeaways from the Trojans’ huge victory:

NO RAYAH MARSHALL, NO PROBLEM

 Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Trojans got bad news before the game with Rayah Marshall being listed as out due to an illness. Even still, they got the win. Clarice Akunwafo had to play more minutes off the bench with Marshall out. She and her teammates all stepped up against a very potent UCLA offense.

How great was USC’s defense? The Trojans forced 22 UCLA turnovers and limited the Bruins to 4-of-22 shooting from 3-point range.

JUJU WATKINS STARDOM

Dec 30, 2023; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2023; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. JuJu Watkins is a star. She led the way with 32 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists, and 3 blocks as she filled up the stat sheet and made hustle plays at both ends of the floor. What more is there to say about her?

CONTAINMENT OF LAUREN BETTS

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Lauren Betts, the Bruins’ star center, was contained fairly well, especially since USC was without Rayah Marshall. Betts had just 10 points and three rebounds with three blocks. USC’s team defense was ready.

MCKENZIE FORBES

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

JuJu Watkins is the big name for USC, but McKenzie Forbes did a lot of things well for the Trojans against UCLA. Forbes finished with 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. USC does not win without her.

HOME COURT

Jan 14, 2024; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2024; Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC had the Galen Center full, and fans were lined up waiting for this top-10 showdown. The home-court advantage sure helped a ton, and USC was able to hand UCLA its first loss of the season.

A packed Galen Center is the vision both the men’s and women’s teams had for the season. The women have realized this vision, and we can see how much of a difference it makes when this arena is electric and buzzing.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire