USC stuns top-seeded Stanford to win women's Pac-12 tournament title

McKenzie Forbes threw the ball with two hands backward over her head. Tears marked Rayah Marshall’s cheeks as she threw a T-shirt into the crowd. JuJu Watkins shared a bear hug with Tommy Trojan.

These are the final queens of the Pac-12.

USC won its first Pac-12 championship since 2014, knocking off top-seeded Stanford 74-61 on Sunday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in the last Pac-12 tournament. Led by graduate transfer McKenzie Forbes’ 26 points, the Trojans flexed their depth in a rare off-game for Watkins, who was held to a season-low nine points.

Watkins dominated on a historic night against the Cardinal in February, scoring 51 of her team’s 67 points in a win at Maples Pavilion, the most points scored by a USC player. This time, hampered by an ankle injury suffered Friday, Watkins got help.

Forbes made 11 of 21 shots from the field. Rayah Marshall (10 points, 18 rebounds) and Kaitlyn Davis (seven rebounds) led USC’s tough effort on the boards, where the Trojans outrebounded Stanford 48-28. It didn’t matter that Watkins was held to a season scoring low and remained four points away from tying Cheryl Miller’s USC single-season scoring record.

The Trojans controlled the game from the start despite playing a grueling double-overtime game in the semifinals. They took a nine-point lead into halftime despite Watkins scoring only two points. With less than a minute left and reality starting to seep in, guard India Otto, who turned 23 Sunday, kept her hands clasped over her mouth to try to contain her excitement.

When Watkins ran out in transition for a layup off a Stanford turnover, putting the Trojans up by 11 with 35 seconds left, Otto burst off the bench.

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