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No. 5 USC beats No. 2 Stanford to win Pac-12 Tournament title

USC celebrates USC celebrates - The Canadian Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — McKenzie Forbes scored 26 points and No. 5 Southern California beat No. 2 Stanford 74-61 on Sunday to win the Pac-12 Tournament championship and earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Trojans (26-5) played in the championship game for the first time since 2014, when they also defeated Stanford. That was their only other tournament title.

Forbes, who came in averaging 13.1 points per game, found success whether she was attacking the rim, hitting mid-range jumpers or firing 3-pointers. The senior finished 11 of 21 from the floor, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

Rayah Marshall had 18 rebounds and 10 points for the Trojans, while Kayla Padilla scored 13 points.

USC freshman sensation JuJu Watkins had a frustrating game, finishing with nine points on 2-of-15 shooting. It was the first time she didn't score in double figures.

Cameron Brink led the Cardinal (28-5) with 19 points, while Kiki Iriafen added 18.

As Watkins struggled in the first half — getting her only two points on free throws, missing all five shot attempts and committing three turnovers — it was Forbes guiding the offense. She scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting while playing the entire first half.

Watkins made her first field goal midway through the third quarter, giving the Trojans a 13-point lead.

USC opened the game on a 13-6 spurt, ignited by back-to-back 3s from Padilla, and took a 22-17 lead after the first quarter. Playing aggressively in shutting down the passing lanes to disrupt Stanford’s flow, the Trojans took advantage of five turnovers by converting them into 12 points.


USC: After averaging just 3.7 turnovers per game through her first 23 contests, Watkins has averaged 5.8 per game over her last seven — including 6.3 in the tournament.

Stanford: After ranking first in the nation in rebounding margin (14.0), the Cardinal were outrebounded 48-28, including 18-6 on the offensive glass.