Saturday, July 13, 2024

USC shocks Stanford to seize first Pac-12 match title in a decade

No. 5 USC Trojans defeat No.2 Stanford Cardinal 74-61, incomes their second and closing Pac-12 championship.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 10: The USC Trojans pose for the media after defeating the Stanford Cardinal 74-61 within the championship recreation of the Pac-12 Convention ladies’s basketball match at MGM Grand Backyard Enviornment on March 10, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photograph by Candice Ward/Getty Pictures)

What a becoming farewell to the Pac-12 Championship.

Underneath head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, the USC Trojans secured the Pac-12 Championship, marking their first convention victory in ten years. Regardless of Stanford being the favored group, USC took an early lead and maintained their momentum all through. Demonstrating their strongest win share because the 1993-1994 season, the Trojans have constantly impressed with their bodily prowess all through the season. It has been an actual honor to look at them this season.

All of it started with a three-pointer sunk by Senior guard McKenzie Forbes. As a first-year switch from Harvard College, and previously Cal, Forbes scored a game-high 26 factors, making 11 out of 21 area objectives and hitting 4 out of 8 three-point makes an attempt. Moreover, she grabbed 5 rebounds, two of which had been on the offensive finish, and contributed two assists together with three steals.

McKenzie Forbes was an unstoppable drive

On Dec. 21, the senior scored a career-high 36 factors in opposition to Lengthy Seashore State, and got here up immense in probably the most unforgettable second, the Pac-12 championship.

Clearly emotional after the sport, Forbes was really unstoppable throughout each ends of the courtroom. Steals and pull up threes, the senior was locked in. Second on the roster in scoring with 13.1 factors per recreation, Forbes was the glue that secured USC their closing ever Pac-12 championship. And along with her stellar recreation play, the California native was named the convention MVP.

Surrounded by reporters, Forbes gave an tearful interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe on the courtroom. In her publish recreation speech, the senior shed tears, but was visibly enthusiastic about her group’s victory.

“I simply love my teammates man,” Forbes informed Rowe through ESPN. “We deserve this, we labored so laborious. We locked in on the sport plan and no one believed we’d win this and we did it.”

USC impressed with out their largest star

What stands out about this victory is that USC managed to defeat the second-ranked group within the nation, regardless of freshman standout JuJu Watkins having an off evening. With a taking pictures efficiency of simply 2-15 from the ground, Watkins ended the sport with a season-low 9 factors, together with one block, one help, and three rebounds in 39 minutes of play. Whereas this efficiency is uncharacteristic for the freshman, it underscores USC’s means to stay a robust drive, even when key gamers face challenges.

Consequently, the Trojans had simply two bench gamers, Clarice Akunwafo and Kayla Williams, who collectively scored 10 factors. Kayla Padilla, who beforehand transferred from Penn State, scored 13 factors with a 50 p.c taking pictures accuracy from past the arc. In the meantime, junior heart Rayah Marshall led the sport with 18 rebounds and in addition contributed 10 factors. Notably, Marshall secured 5 of her rebounds on the offensive finish.

And for USC, it isn’t about who scores probably the most collective factors. Really a group effort, the USC Trojans had been by no means favored to win the convention title.

“We love basketball, and that is the most effective half about this group,” Forbes informed ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “Nobody cares who will get a shine. Nobody cares who scores 50, who scores zero. We have now individuals who play their function, who simply go on the market and rebound. It would not matter, we simply wish to win.”

USC dominated on the rebounds

Talking of rebounds, appearing as a robust drive on the glass was the distinction maker for the USC. By out rebounding Stanford 48-28, there have been a plethora of second likelihood alternatives, together with 21 factors off turnovers. There’s outplaying a group on the glass, after which there’s utterly dominating a group on the rebounds. In USC’s case, it was a show of absolute masterclass on the rebounds.

What an unbelievable freshman season it has been for Watkins. The subsequent generational expertise, she led the Trojans with 27 factors per recreation, and broke a number of information in her first season. Actually, the Sierra Canyon product is now probably the most scoring freshman in NCAA ladies’s basketball historical past. Whereas Caitlin Clark completed with 799 factors following her freshman yr, Watkins is at 801.

An integral a part of the Trojans success this season, Watkins poured in 33 factors, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals within the Pac-12 semifinal in opposition to no. 7 UCLA. Making historical past all season lengthy, the guard broke Cheryl Miller’s report for probably the most 30-point video games in a season for the USC Trojans.

USC defeated Stanford twice this yr

Regardless of being ranked No. 1 within the Pac-12 this season, the Cardinal suffered solely 5 losses, one in every of which was in opposition to USC on Feb. 2, with a closing rating of 67-58. In a exceptional show, JuJu Watkins made historical past by turning into the primary Division 1 freshman to attain 50 factors in a recreation since Elena Delle Donne in 2010. With a powerful 51 factors, she propelled the Trojans to their first victory at Maples Pavilion, the Cardinal’s residence courtroom, in 24 years.

Whereas USC has lengthy demonstrated their means to compete with Stanford and head coach Tara VanDerveer, it is Stanford that has largely dominated the Pac-12, clinching 5 convention titles since 2015. Regardless of USC’s latest championship win, it marks a big shift within the panorama of one in every of ladies’s basketball’s best conferences. With VanDerveer’s affect shaping the trajectory of girls’s hoops, this victory undoubtedly evokes a variety of feelings. Two notable sentiments embody disappointment and unhappiness.

With 12 groups a part of the Pac-12, USC will transfer to the Massive Ten, together with UCLA subsequent season. In the meantime, whereas Arizona, Utah, amongst others, will be part of the Massive 12. Stanford, together with Cal, will be part of the ACC. The irony on this all? The Pac-12 is without doubt one of the strongest conferences in ladies’s basketball historical past, together with six ranked groups. Cameron Brink, JuJu Watkins, Alissa Pili, the record goes on. The quantity of expertise within the Pac-12 is gigantic, and it’ll indefinitely be missed.

In a bittersweet day, the USC Trojans will transfer onto the NCAA match, the place they are going to obtain an opportunity to compete for a Nationwide Championship title.

Associated article: Click on right here

Keep tuned for extra NCAA and WNBA associated articles. Click on right here

Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter, Content material Creator and Social Media Supervisor for Ballislife Bets. She has a give attention to the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane presently resides in Connecticut/NYC space along with her Cat and Canine. SJ has her undergraduate diploma from the College of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in enterprise administration.

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