No. 5 USC women outlast No. 7 UCLA 80-70 in double overtime to reach Pac-12 championship game

LAS VEGAS (AP) — JuJu Watkins had 33 points and 10 rebounds and No. 5 Southern California outlasted No. 7 UCLA 80-70 in double overtime in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals Friday night.

USC (25-5) outscored the Bruins 13-3 in the second overtime to advance to face No. 2 Stanford in the championship game Sunday. The Cardinal beat No. 13 Oregon State 66-57 in the first semifinal.

In their only meeting this season, Watkins scored 51 points to lead USC to a 67-58 road upset at Stanford on Feb. 2.

It marks USC’s first trip to the championship game since 2014.

McKenzie Forbes added 17 points for the Trojans, while Rayah Marshall had seven points and 11 rebounds and Kaitlyn Davis contributed with eight points and 16 rebounds.

“The stat sheet does not define, and properly show, how their guts are still lying on that court,” USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb, flanked by Watkins and Davis at the postgame press conference, referring to the physical clash with the Los Angeles rival.

Still battered, bruised and bandaged after being bloodied in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Arizona, Watkins was helped from the floor with what appeared to be a severely sprained ankle with 3:56 left in the first overtime.

A minute and a half later, hobbling, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year returned to the game with the Trojans trailing by four.

“Even when I went out I knew I had to get back in because I think my team needed me,” said Watkins, who set a new Pac-12 Tournament record for points in a game by a freshman. “It’s just an ankle, nothing I’m not used to. ... This is my first March, so I’m being thrown into the fire. I’m taking it one day at a time, but it’s just a great feeling regardless of the physicality. Whatever’s going on, I’m glad to be a part of it. ... It’s important we leave it all out on the floor.”

Charisma Osborne led UCLA with 21 points. Lauren Betts added 17 points and 18 rebounds, Kiki Rice had 11 points and six assists before fouling out. Angela Dugalic chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Bruins (25-6) had a chance to win with 1.9 seconds left in both regulation and the first overtime, but couldn’t get a shot off.

“Probably, if I had to do it all over again, we might have done something different on the first one, on the side, to try to get us something a little quicker,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We didn’t get a clean catch or inbound to get it right back to the inbounder coming off the flare. The other one is a play that we do a lot. I thought (Charisma) had a look maybe right at the beginning. But those are situations that, that’s not the place where I thought we won or lost the game.”

Though the Bruins closed the third quarter hitting just 1 of 10 field-goal attempts, they outscored USC 14-11 to keep within striking distance.

Osborne hit a mid-range jumper with 8:28 left in the game to give UCLA its first lead since late in the second quarter, at 49-48, breathing life back into the Bruins and setting off a sequence of lead changes for the home stretch.

USC’s Kayla Padilla hit three free throws to make it 51-49, the Bruins would get basket from Osborne and Dugalic to regain the lead, 54-51.

Watkins sparked an 8-0 run with six of the points, and the Bruins would answer with back-to-back buckets, again culminating with a Dugalic 3-pointer to tie it at 59, where regulation would end.


UCLA: Sophomore Christeen Iwuala came in averaging 3.8 points in 12.1 minutes per game. But during a critical 20-4 second-quarter run that helped the Bruins erase a 16-point deficit, the 6-foot-2 forward contributed four points in a five-minute span.

Southern California: The Trojans ranked 31st in the nation with a 3-point shooting percentage of 35.7%, but shot just 21.0% on Friday, hitting 4 of 19.


Get alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here.


AP women’s college basketball: and