USC junior forward Rayah Marshall (13) 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists against the UC Riverside Highlanders (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The #6 USC Women of Troy Basketball Team extended their perfect record after defeating the UC Riverside Highlanders 85-53.

Three Women of Troy scored in the double digits in the matchup with freshman guard Juju Watkins scoring 27 points and five steals. Junior forward Rayah Marshall and grad student forward McKenzie Forbes poured in 11 points each. Marshall also led with 12 rebounds. The Women of Troy now have an 8-0 overall record.

USC women’s basketball head coach Lindsay Gottlieb mentioned how she challenged the team to be “juicy” and have a lot of energy against the Highlanders.

“Some of this crowd never seen us before and we want to make sure that we represent ourselves how we wanted to be represented, so I was really proud of that,” Gottlieb said. “From where we are right now, our feeling in the locker room was I’ve got a team that’s joyful about playing with each other and very hungry to get better.”

Related Stories

Juju Watkins Breaks Records At USC

Home Run for Diversity: Ron Washington’s Return to the Helm of MLB

Watkins continues to gain recognition as she was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the fifth consecutive time.

The Women of Troy kept the Highlanders scoreless for the first four minutes of the game. USC also put forth a strong defensive effort, making six blocks in the first phase.

Forbes went on a five-point run and sophomore guard Taylor Bigby led the USC offense with six points, giving the Women of Troy a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“We go so hard defensively because we want to score,” Marshall said. “I don’t want anyone to score while I’m in the paint.”

Highlanders forward Matehya Bryant and guard Jordan Webster were the main offensive contributors. On defense, UC Riverside played man-to-man but at times resulted in fouls.

USC freshman guard Juju Watkins was named Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Week on December 4, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

USC held the Highlanders to 16 points in the first half. The Women of Troy made 10 steals and 10 blocks in the contest.

“We want to really learn the spots in which we can be aggressive within our game plan,” Gottlieb said. “I think the more we understand all the schemes, we’ll just allow us to be ourselves on the defensive end as well.”

UC Riverside went on a 10-4 run in under three regulated minutes. Despite the Highlanders’ hustle on offense, they struggled to close a deficit that was as large as 39 points.

UC Riverside shot at 41 percent from behind the arc, but the Women of Troy sank 10 three-pointers in the matchup.

The contest was the second half of a double-header at the Galen Center. In the first game, the USC Trojans men’s basketball team defeated the Long Beach State Beach 84-79. The game marked the season debut of Bronny James, who suffered from cardiac arrest in July.

Less than 24 hours after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James sat courtside to watch his son Bronny play collegiate basketball for the first time. Bronny scored four points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block.

Pac-12 play is around the corner and the Women of Troy’s first opponent are the #2 UCLA Bruins. For women’s basketball, the rivals are nationally ranked while the men’s basketball teams are not.

“Women’s basketball is just on a different level right now, so I’m glad to be a part of that,” Watkins said. “I think this team is taking a lot of ownership in the position we’re in but also striving to go even further.”