USC Crowned Pac-12 Tournament Champions

Photo by DeAngelo Scruggs / fi360 News

Las Vegas, NV- The No.5 University of Southern California Trojans (26-5, 15-5 Pac-12) are now the 2024 Pac-12 Tournament Champions after upsetting top-seeded and No 2. Stanford (28-5,15-3 Pac-12) 74-61 in the championship game in the last Pac-12 Tournament.

Graduate Transfer McKenzie Forbes was the best show in Vegas on Sunday as she lit MGM Grand Garden Arena and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player with 26 points and 5 rebounds.

Photo by DeAngelo Scruggs / fi360 News

It was a total team effort for the Trojans. Stanford wasn’t going to let Juju Watkins single-handedly beat them again like her 51-point performance on February 3rd in Stanford. 

Watkins finished the game with her lowest scoring total of the season with only 9 points.

The rest of the Trojans roster had their teammates back. Junior Rayah Marshall had her fourth double-double in five games with 10 points and 18 rebounds, Kayla Padilla added 13 points and senior guard Kayla Williams provided a spark off the bench with 8 points.

“This entire team has embraced Ju so much,” Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “My vision, the dream is that you gotta figure it out, you gotta pick your poison. … We don’t win a championship today without being able to rely on everything that is truly our team.”

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Forbes led the initial charge early for USC with 10 first-quarter points. The Trojans went on a 10-0 run early in the first period. USC shot 41% on 15 of 36 shooting from the floor and made 6 of 12 attempts from behind the arc for 50%.

Stanford responded with their own 10-0 run early in the second. The Cardinals shot 46% from the floor making 12 of 26 field goals and 66% from the three-point line.

USC led 40-31 at halftime.

The Trojans remained in control of the game coming out of halftime, pushing their lead to 16 points, and never allowed the lead to go below eight points. USC shot 37% in the second half making 12 of 32 attempts and went 3 of 8 from three for 37%.

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Pac 12 Player of the Year Cameron Brink led the Cardinals in scoring with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Kiki Iriafen added 18 points.

Standford shot 39% in the second half going 13 of 33 from the field but never was able to string together stops to cut down USC’s lead.

The Trojans won their second Pac-12 Tournament championship with the last one coming in 2014. With the win Head Coach Lindsay Gotlieb recorded the most wins as a USC Head Coach since Cheryl Miller did so in the 1993-94 season.

The newly crowned 2024 Pac-12 Tournament Champion USC Trojans are now ranked number 3 in the nation and are most likely going to be a #1 seed in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. 

Photo by DeAngelo Scruggs / fi360 News

Gotlieb spoke about how the Pac-12 Tournament has prepared them for the NCAA Tournament “I think we’re playing our best basketball right now because of that, because we have seen every gameplan possible in the Pac-12… We’ve seen everything…. So I think we should go into the NCAA tournament with a lot of confidence because we know that whatever they throw at us we have something to counter that.”