JuJu Watkins, USC’s best player, did not shoot well in this game. She was 6 of 17 from the field, 1 of 5 on 3-pointers, and 2 of 6 at the free throw line. It is hard to imagine a player of Watkins’ caliber shooting any worse than this in any future game this season. She might shoot poorly from the field and from 3-point range in a future game, but not from the foul line. In terms of a full slash line, this was a worst-case scenario or at least something close to it.
If you had been told Watkins would shoot this poorly, you probably would have thought USC would have at least sweated out this game, needing to fight deep into the fourth quarter to fend off Seton Hall.
Nope. It didn’t happen.
USC led by 15 at halftime, by 20 after three quarters, and was still up by 11 points with just over two minutes left. The Trojans were so good on defense, as they typically are under Lindsay Gottlieb and Beth Burns, that Seton Hall never got particularly close at any point in the final three quarters.
USC is extremely good when it successfully plays defense without fouling. On Monday, we got a first-class example of this trait. USC allowed only four free throw attempts to Seton Hall while earning 25 free throws of its own. The 15-point difference USC gained at the foul line (16-1) was the central, essential difference in the Trojans’ 64-54 win.
Rayah Marshall had yet another double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds for USC. Four Trojan starters finished with at least 12 points. USC’s defense, in addition to not fouling much — 10 total fouls for the whole game — forced 16 Seton Hall turnovers.
Imagine if USC football had a defense as good as USC women’s basketball.
The Trojans, now 4-0 for the season, will stay in The Bahamas to play Penn State on Wednesday.