2024 Creighton vs St. John's - Women's1

Women's AP Top 25 Round-Up: Caitlin Clark and JuJu Watkins Make History

Women's AP Top 25 Round-Up: Caitlin Clark and JuJu Watkins Make History

Caitlin Clark and JuJu Watkins are both in rarefied air as they lead Iowa and Southern California into the final month of the 2023-24 regular season.

Feb 6, 2024 by Kyle Kensing
Women's AP Top 25 Round-Up: Caitlin Clark and JuJu Watkins Make History

Following her history-making performance in USC's win over Stanford, JuJu Watkins posed for a photo with "51" scrawled in pen — an homage to the most iconic scoring effort ever in basketball.

Watkins' production in a 67-58 win may have been celebrated with a nod to Wilt Chamberlain, but in setting USC's freshman single-game scoring record, she surpassed a different icon: Cheryl Miller. 

Watkins blew past Miller's previous mark of 39 points by the end of the third quarter, when she had 40 points. 

"At halftime when I looked at the box score I was like, 'Damn, I have 25 points,'" Watkins said following the win. "'I could get 50!'" 

She did one better. 

For the freshman sensations, her record-setting performance wasn't just a testament to her offensive excellence, which has been evident from her first game as a Trojan. By her second week in the college game, Watkins already set another record with her 31 points in the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship vs. Penn State. 

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Watkins' program record reflected her ability to rebound when things aren't going according to plan. 

"The most significant thing is JuJu is coming off our team's toughest loss of the year, and a performance she wasn't happy with," Trojans coach Lindsay Gottlieb said in the postgame press conference. "Her demeanor from the second that game ended against Washington to now is what sets her apart to me more than these numbers." 

Coming off a marquee win over rival and then-No. 2-ranked UCLA, USC dropped 3-of-4 with road losses to Utah and Colorado, then a 62-59 home defeat against Washington. Watkins scored 19 points against the Huskies, but shot just 8-of-27 from the floor and committed six turnovers. 

Perhaps it's cliche, but it's true: Even the best players face setbacks. Their ability to come back better is what makes them by definition the best, and Watkins showed that. It's a trait that puts her in league with the sport's premier players, a group that includes Iowa's Caitlin Clark. 

Since the Hawkeyes' 100-92 loss in overtime at Ohio State, they have run off three straight in Big Ten Conference play, capped with a 93-85 win in front of a record-setting crowd at Maryland. 

Clark's 38 points with 7-of-17 shooting rom 3-point range and 12 assists made her the talk of the basketball world as Iowa ascended back to No. 2 in the AP Top 25. 

Clark heads into the final month of the regular season just 65 points behind Kelsey Plum as the top scorer since the formation of women's NCAA basketball in 1982. She's also just 145 points shy of matching Pete Maravich's total NCAA scoring record, and 422 away from equaling Pearl Moore's incredible 3,884 points scored from 1975-1979 at Francis Marion in the AIAW days. 

With seven regular-season games to go, Clark is virtually assured of passing Plum barring injury. She needs to average a little more than 20 points per game to head into the Big Ten Tournament ahead of Maravich. 

Moore's record will be the one to pay close attention to, as Iowa will likely need a deep NCAA Tournament akin to last year's National Championship Game run to provide Clark ample opportunities to score 423 points. 

A little to the west of Iowa City in Omaha, another team has been red-hot since a January loss: The Creighton Bluejays picked up their eighth straight on Feb. 4 with a 75-65 road victory over Butler. 

Creighton avenged an earlier loss the game prior, knocking off fellow BIG EAST NCAA Tournament hopeful Marquette last Wednesday, 76-71. 

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

As Creighton inches up the Top 25 Poll commensurate with its winning streak, the Bluejays could be in the top 20 by the time they travel to face UConn on Feb. 19. Three of Creighton's next four are on the road, however, including a Feb. 16 visit to St. John's to open Presidents Day Weekend. 

Feb. 5 Women's AP Top 25

1. South Carolina

Record: 21-0 

Previous; No. 1 

2. Iowa

Record: 21-2

Previous: No. 3

3. North Carolina State

Record: 19-2

Previous: No. 5 

4. Colorado

Record: 19-3

Previous: No. 6

5. Ohio State

Record: 19-4

Previous: No. 8 

6. Stanford

Record: 20-3

Previous: No. 4 

7. Texas

Record: 21-3

Previous: No. 12

8. Kansas State

Record: 20-3

Previous: No. 2

9. UCLA

Record: 17-4

Previous: No. 7

10. USC

Record: 16-4

Previous: No. 15 

11. UConn

Record: 19-4

Previous: No. 11

12. Notre Dame

Record: 17-4

Previous: No. 14

13. LSU

Record: 19-4

Previous: No. 9 

14. Indiana

Record: 18-3

Previous: No. 10

15. Louisville

Record: 19-3

Previous: No. 16

16. Virginia Tech

Record: 18-4

Previous: No. 17

17. Oregon State

Record: 17-3

Previous: No. 18

18. Baylor

Record: 17-4

Previous: No. 13

19. Gonzaga

Record: 22-2

Previous: No. 19

20. Utah 

Record: 17-6

Previous: No. 20

21. Creighton

Record: 18-3

Previous: No. 22

22. West Virginia

Record: 19-2

Previous: No. 23

23. Syracuse

Record: 18-4

Previous: No. 21

24. Oklahoma

Record: 15-6

Previous: Not Ranked

25. Princeton

Record: 17-3

Previous: No. 25