Jan. 6, 2012
Saturday, Jan. 7
3 p.m. PT - UCLA (6-8, 1-2 Pac-12) at Arizona State (10-3, 1-1 Pac-12)
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Audio
TV: Fox Sports Net (live)
BRUINS FACE SUN DEVILS
UCLA (6-8, 1-2 Pac-12) finishes up play in the desert on Saturday when they take on Arizona State (10-3, 1-1) at 3 p.m. PT. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net and will also feature free audio and Gametracker at UCLABruins.com.
The Bruins are coming off a 74-66 loss at Arizona on Thursday night. Sophomore Thea Lemberger paced UCLA with 17 points and five assists, junior Markel Walker posted her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds and senior Rebekah Gardner added 12 points and eight boards. UCLA led for most of the second half, but Arizona went ahead just under the five-minute mark and held on down the stretch to record the victory.
Rebekah Gardner is second on the team with 14.6 points per game, first with 25 steals and third with 6.0 rebounds per game, 27 assists and 13 three-pointers. Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 14 games, at least one steal in 13 of 14 contests (2+ on nine occasions) and is tied for first on the squad with 10 double-figure scoring games (31 career). The senior had 12 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes on Thursday at Arizona. Last weekend, she led the Bruins with 17 points to go with six rebounds against Stanford (Dec. 31), adding eight points, five boards and two steals versus California (Dec. 29). The Bruins' lone senior has four games with at least 20 points, netting a career-high 24 against Tennessee (Dec. 17) on 9-of-18 shooting and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. She also had 20 points versus San Diego State (Nov. 30) and a pair of double-doubles with 21 points and 10 rebounds against both Tennessee Tech (Nov. 13) and Colgate (Nov. 26). Gardner tallied three steals versus Tennessee Tech and San Diego State and has two thefts in six more contests. She also has at least five boards in nine games, including four in a row (6.3 rpg).
Markel Walker has produced double figures in points and has led the Bruins in rebounds in all seven of her contests since returning on Dec. 13 after off-season left thumb surgery. Walker posted her first double-double of the year and eighth of her career with 12 points and 12 rebounds at Arizona on Thursday. Last week, she had 11 points and seven rebounds against Stanford and a season-best 18 points and four steals to go with eight boards and four assists versus Cal. Walker is third on the squad with 12.7 ppg, second with 8.3 rpg and a 41.6 shooting percentage and fourth with 25 steals and 20 assists. The junior had a happy homecoming to her native Philadelphia prior to the Christmas break. She made her first start of the year at Temple (Dec. 20) and had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Walker came back two days later against Saint Joseph's (Dec. 22) and played 19 of 20 minutes in the second half and nearly recorded a double-double with 16 points and nine boards. Walker notched 11 points in each of her first two games versus LSU (Dec. 13) and Tennessee, adding six boards and three steals against the Tigers and eight rebounds and two thefts against the Lady Vols.
Thea Lemberger is another of a Bruin quartet that is averaging double figures in points and leads the team with 17.0 ppg in the first three Pac-12 games. Lemberger paced UCLA with 17 points on Thursday at Arizona, her 10th double-figure scoring game of the season, which is tied for the team lead. Last week, the sophomore had eight points against Stanford and posted a career night against California. She had a personal-best 26 points, going 7-of-11 (63.6%) from the field, 3-of-6 (50%) from beyond the arc and 9-of-10 (90%) from the free throw line, adding four assists and three rebounds. Lemberger is fourth on the squad with 11.8 ppg. She is also tops on the team with 44 assists, 18 three-pointers and a 76.7 shooting percentage (33-43) from the charity stripe. The sophomore had a four-game streak with at least 10 points snapped against Stanford after producing 26 against Cal, 12 versus Saint Joseph's, 13 at Temple and 11 against Tennessee. Lemberger added a career-best six helpers against the Lady Vols and has at least four assists in six of her last eight games. She also has at least one trey in 11 of her 14 contests, including three at Temple.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister and Lemberger, have started all 14 games for the Bruins. She is averaging 4.7 ppg and 3.6 rpg. Gardner has at least four rebounds in four of her last eight, producing four boards and four points against Temple and five rebounds and six points at Saint Joseph's. Her career best in rebounds came against Colgate when she had 10, while her personal high in points happened in the season opener versus McNeese State (Nov. 11) when the sophomore poured in 18 on 5-of-7 shooting and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line. Last week, Gardner had four points, three boards and a career-high three blocks against California and two points and two steals versus Stanford. She had one board in 16 minutes on Thursday at Arizona.
Moriah Faulk has come off the bench in all 14 contests and is averaging 6.1 ppg with 15 three-pointers, which is second on the team. The freshman has multiple treys in five games, including a perfect 3-for-3 at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 4) when she had a season-best 11 points, six rebounds and four steals in just 14 minutes. Faulk also has double-figure games with 10 against both McNeese State and Baylor (Nov. 17). She had nine points and tied a career high with six rebounds at Arizona on Thursday. In her first two Pac-12 games, Faulk had no points and four rebounds against California and six points and three boards versus Stanford.
Mariah Williams has started 10 straight games (12 total) and is averaging 3.8 ppg, while placing second on the team with 41 assists and third with 17 steals. The junior has a pair of contests with at least 10 points, posting 13 at Loyola Marymount and 11 versus San Diego State. Williams was 6-of-10 from the floor against the Lions and went 7-of-8 from the charity stripe versus the Aztecs. On Thursday at Arizona, the junior notched four points and three assists. Last weekend, she had two points in both contests, adding five assists and three steals against California and two assists and one steal versus Stanford. Williams' season high in assists came in the opener against McNeese State when she had six. She has at least four helpers in six contests. Williams has a steal in five of her last six games (eight total).
Corinne Costa helped UCLA set a school record for blocks and broke a school mark herself with seven swats against California. The seven blocks broke Natalie Williams' record of six set on March 6, 1992 against Arizona, while the Bruins' 13 blocks bested the previous mark of 12 set on Dec. 4, 1980 against Texas A&M. Costa tied a career high with eight points on Thursday at Arizona, adding a season-high seven rebounds. The sophomore added five rebounds, two points and two steals versus Cal. She posted two points, three rebounds and a block against Stanford. Costa, who leads the Bruins with 22 blocks, has 12 in her last five contests. She tied a career high with eight points, all in the first half, against Saint Joseph's. It was the sophomore's first career start, as she made 4-of-6 from the field, pulled down six rebounds and added two blocks. Costa, who is averaging 2.6 ppg and 3.7 rpg, has at least five boards in five contests. She also has at least one block in 12 of 14 games.
Kacy Swain is averaging 2.9 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 12 contests. The freshman recorded four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes at Arizona on Thursday. Last weekend, she had two blocks against California in six minutes and two points and a board in 14 minutes of action versus Stanford. The freshman's season best in points came against Tennessee Tech when she had nine on 4-of-9 shooting. Swain pulled down a season-high four rebounds against West Virginia on Nov. 25.
Atonye Nyingifa, who is first on the team with 14.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg and a 45.7 shooting percentage, second with 11 blocks and third with 18 steals, tore her right ACL against Tennessee and will miss the remainder of the season. The redshirt junior had seven double-figure scoring contests and five double-doubles. Nyingifa poured in a career-best 28 and tied a personal high with 14 rebounds against Loyola Marymount.
Two Bruins, junior Jackie Shepard (foot/shoulder) and freshman Alexis Perry (shoulder), have yet to see action this season as they recover from off-season surgeries. Freshman walk-on Madeline Brooks made her collegiate debut against Colgate, playing four minutes and recording one offensive rebound. She had two points in six minutes at Loyola Marymount and played the final minute of Saturday's game against Stanford.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE
The Sun Devils moved to 1-1 in the Pac-12 following a 60-48 loss to USC on Thursday. Arizona State shot just 29.8% from the field and did not have a player in double figures in points. ASU opened conference play with a 60-45 win against Arizona on Dec. 31. The Sun Devils started the season with four straight wins, followed by a loss, and then had a pair of three-game win streaks with a loss in between each of them.
Senior Kimberly Brandon is the lone Sun Devil averaging double figures in points at 10.2 ppg. She is also first with 7.1 rpg. Junior Micaela Pickens is second with 8.1 ppg and first with 30 steals, while senior Kali Bennett is averaging 6.6 ppg to go with a team-best 32 blocks and 6.7 rpg, which is second on the squad. Joseph Anders, in his 11th year coaching at Arizona State, is serving as the interim head coach for the 2011-12 season.
The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Sun Devils 45-25 and have won four straight in the series. Last season, UCLA recorded a 61-45 win on Feb. 26 in Tempe behind 17 points and 13 rebounds from Jasmine Dixon and 15 points by Atonye Nyingifa. At Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 27, Nyingifa went for 16 and Dixon added 10, as the Bruins shot 53.3% from the floor. UCLA is 19-14 all-time in Tempe, having won the last two matchups at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State's last victory in the series was a 69-66 triumph in Westwood on Feb. 14, 2009, which was its seventh straight win over UCLA. The Sun Devils' most recent home win was a 68-44 decision on Jan. 15, 2009.
BRUINS IN THE PAC-12
Rankings through Jan. 6
Rebekah Gardner: Minutes Played (3rd, 33.4); Scoring (7th, 14.6); Steals (10th, 1.8); Offensive Rebounds (13th, 2.4); Free Throw Pct (15th, .673); Rebounding (19th, 6.0)
Thea Lemberger: Free Throw Pct (7th, .767); Assist/Turnover Ratio (9th, 1.3); Minutes (10th, 32.4); Assists (12th, 3.1); Scoring (15th, 11.8); 3-Point FG Made (1.3)
Corinne Costa: Blocks (7th, 1.6)
Moriah Faulk: 3-Point FG Pct (13th, .357)
Team: Turnover Margin (4th, +1.2); 3-Point FG Pct Defense (5th, .288); Offensive Rebounds (5th, 14.4); Steals (6th, 8.2)