Dec. 27, 2011
BRUINS HOST BEARS
UCLA (5-6) is back home this week and opens up Pac-12 play against California (9-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the John Wooden Center. The game will feature free video and audio at UCLABruins.com. Due to the holiday, parking on campus is free this week.
Rebekah Gardner continues to lead the Bruins with 15.2 points per game and 22 steals. She is also second with a 43.5 field goal percentage and third with 5.9 rebounds per game and 10 three-pointers. Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 11 games, at least one steal in every contest (2+ on eight occasions) and is tied for the team lead with eight double-figure scoring games. 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). Last week, Gardner posted nine points against Temple (Dec. 20) and 10 points and six rebounds versus Saint Joseph's (Dec. 22), recording a pair of steals in each contest.
Markel Walker had a happy homecoming to her native Philadelphia last week. She made her first start of the year at Temple and had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Walker came back two days later against Saint Joseph's and played 19 of 20 minutes in the second half and nearly recorded a double-double with 16 points and nine boards. The junior is averaging 12.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg in four contests since returning from offseason thumb surgery. 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. The sophomore is tied for the team lead with eight double-figure scoring contests and is averaging 10.4 ppg on the year. She has three straight games with at least 10 points, recording 12 against Saint Joseph's, 13 at Temple and 11 versus Tennessee. Her season high in points came at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 4) when she had 15 on 6-of-10 shooting with a pair of three-pointers. Lemberger, who leads the Bruins with 3.2 assists per game and is second with 12 treys, had a career-best six helpers against the Lady Vols and has at least four assists in four of her last five games. She also had a personal-best three treys at Temple.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister and Lemberger, have started all 11 games for the Bruins. She is averaging 5.5 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Gardner has at least four rebounds in four of her last five, 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.
Moriah Faulk has come off the bench in all 11 contests and is averaging 6.5 ppg with a team-best 14 three-pointers. The freshman has multiple treys in five games, including a perfect 3-for-3 at Loyola Marymount 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). Last week, she had eight points and two treys at Temple and two points against Saint Joseph's.
Mariah Williams has started seven straight games (nine total) and is averaging 4.1 ppg, while placing second on the team with 31 assists. 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. Last week, she had six points and four assists at Temple and two points and two steals against Saint Joseph's. Williams' season high in assists came in the opener against McNeese State when she had six. She has at least four helpers in five contests.
Kacy Swain is averaging 3.2 ppg and 1.8 rpg in nine contests. She had three points against Temple and four versus Saint Joseph's last week, playing 10 minutes in both games. 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.
Corinne Costa tied a career high with eight points, all in the first half, against Saint Joseph's last Thursday. 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 2.3 ppg and 3.4 rpg, has at least five boards in three contests. The team leader in blocks with 13 has one in nine of 11 games, including three at Baylor.
Atonye Nyingifa, who is second on the team with 14.7 ppg, 18 steals and 11 blocks and first with 8.9 rpg and a 45.7 shooting percentage, 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 at LMU.
The Golden Bears are 9-3 on the season, with their three losses coming by a combined six points to nationally-ranked Rutgers, Texas and Ohio State. Cal's last trip on the court saw them come away with an 80-39 victory against Dartmouth in Berkeley last Tuesday.
The Bears have a balanced scoring attack with seven players averaging between 7.1 and 10.7 ppg. Freshman Reshanda Gray leads the way, coming off the bench in 11 of 12 contests, averaging 10.7 ppg with a team-best 57.7 shooting percentage. Junior Layshia Clarendon is also in double figures with 10.4 ppg and is first with 15 three-pointers. Freshman Brittany Boyd leads the squad with 4.9 assists per game and 26 steals to go with 8.3 ppg, while sophomore Gennifer Brandon is the leading rebounder with 10.7 rpg, adding 8.1 ppg and a team-best 14 blocks. Lindsay Gottlieb is in her first season as Cal's head coach after spending three years leading UC Santa Barbara to a 56-39 mark.
The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Golden Bears 45-14 and have won six in a row. UCLA beat California three times last season, winning 65-56 in Berkeley (Jan. 22), 63-48 in Westwood (Feb. 18) and 63-50 at the Pac-10 Tournament (March 11). The Bruins are 23-5 at home against the Bears (4-0 at the Wooden Center) and have won three straight in Westwood. Cal's last win in the series was a 64-48 triumph in Berkeley on Jan. 29, 2009. The Bears' most recent win in Los Angeles was a 73-70 victory in overtime on Jan. 6, 2008.