LOS ANGELES – UCLA (12-16, 6-10) concludes the regular season this week when it travels to Colorado and Utah. The Bruins will be in Boulder, Colo., for a 5:06 p.m. PT/6:06 p.m. PT tip-off on Friday, Feb. 28 at Colorado (15-12, 5-11). Then UCLA will travel to Salt Lake City to face Utah (11-16, 4-12) on March 2 at 1:06 p.m. PT/2:06 p.m. MT. Both games will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks while the Utah contest will also air on KEIB - AM 1150.
Venue: Coors Events Center
Arena Capacity: 11,064
Date: Feb. 28, 2014
Time: 5:06 p.m. (PT)/6:06 p.m. (MT)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Anne Marie Anderson (play-by-play), Julie Rousseau (analyst)
Online Audio: www.uclabruins.com
Talent: Dave Marcus (play-by-play)
UCLA VS. COLORADO
This is just the eighth meeting between UCLA and Colorado with the Bruins leading the series 4-3. The Bruins are 2-1 against the Buffaloes since they joined the Pac-12 Conference. UCLA posted a 62-54 win in overtime in Boulder, Colo., on Jan. 29, 2012 and last year defeated Colorado in Los Angeles, 62-46, on Feb. 1, 2013. In this year’s earlier meeting, Jen Reese scored 15 points and Jasmine Sborov added 11 to lead No. 12/14 Colorado to a 61-59 victory over UCLA in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA led 52-43 with 6:17 to play but couldn’t hold the lead. The Buffaloes outscored the Bruins 18-7 down the stretch to seal the win. Thea Lemberger and Luiana Livulo each missed close shots for the Bruins in the final seconds and Colorado held on for the victory. Reese’s basket with 1:54 to play gave Colorado a 55-54 lead. Brittany Wilson hit two free throws in the final 15 seconds to provide the margin of victory for the Buffaloes. Nirra Fields led UCLA with 23 points and Atonye Nyingifa had her sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bruins. Reese led a Colorado scoring surge late in the first half as she tallied six straight points for the Buffaloes. Wilson’s basket just before the buzzer gave Colorado a 30-22 halftime lead.
UCLA has lost three key players for the season as the Bruins will be without redshirt freshman Lauren Holiday (3.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) for the remainder of the year, as announced by Head Coach Cori Close last week. Holiday sustained a head injury at the end of the first half of the USC game (Dec. 30). She joins sophomore guard Kari Korver (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior forward Kacy Swain (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg) as players lost for the year. Both of them suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) within a week of each other. Korver also had a tear in her lateral meniscus. Freshman forward Paulina Hersler has yet to play this season due to a knee injury she sustained in Sweden before arriving in the United States.
NYINGIFA CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Atonye Nyingifa became UCLA’s all-time leader in games played at USC (Feb. 8) and now has 135. That mark also ranks tied for 6th on the NCAA active career list. She is currently 14th on the Bruins’ career scoring list with 1,529 points (behind Necie Thompson - 1981-83 - 1,536), which ranks 55th on the NCAA active career list and 5th in the Pac-12. She is 6th in career rebounds (899, ranks 4th on the Pac-12 active career list and 24th on the NCAA active list). She needs 26 to pass Markel Walker (925, 2010-2013) for 5th. She is 4th in free throws made (362), which ranks 44th on the NCAA active career charts and 5th in free throws attempted (526), which ranks 35th on the NCAA active career chart.
ON THE TUBE
This year UCLA has the distinction of having the first televised conference game when they hosted USC (Dec. 30) and the last televised conference game on March 2, 2014 when they visit Utah (1:00 p.m.). The Bruins will be making a total of 18 television appearances, the most in school history, during the 2013-14 regular season.
UCLA was selected to finish fifth in both the Pac-12 conference’s preseason coaches and media polls. Stanford was picked to finish first, followed by California, Colorado and Washington. After the Bruins, USC was selected to finish sixth, followed by Utah and Oregon State.
The Bruins can boast of having one of the toughest schedules in the country as four of its nonconference games were against teams ranked in the top 12 (at #12/17 Nebraska, vs. #12/14 North Carolina, vs. #10/13 Oklahoma and at #4/5 Notre Dame). The Bruins’ nonconference strength of schedule ranked No. 3 in the country (tops in the Pac-12) and helped the Bruins to a No. 26 overall ranking in the RPI. Ten of the Bruins’ 12 nonconference opponents have a winning record and UCLA’s nonconference opponents are a combined 209-109 for a .660 winning percentage (Nebraska 21-5; Pepperdine 5-21; North Carolina 21-6; Oklahoma 17-12; James Madison 23-4; Grand Canyon 17-8; NC State 23-5; Notre Dame 27-0; San Diego State 10-14; Minnesota 17-11; Auburn 15-12 and Cal Poly 15-11).
BRUINS AND THE McDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN GAME
Three Bruin signees, Recee’ Caldwell, Jordin Canada and Lajahna Drummer, were named to the 12-woman roster to represent the West in the 13th edition of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. The three give UCLA the most players in the 2014 game and are the most to play in one game in school history. The three players are part of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for the Bruins which consists of Canada (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS), Caldwell (San Antonio, Texas/FEAST), Drummer (Inglewood, Calif./Long Beach Poly), Kelli Hayes (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS) and Monique Billings (Corona, Calif./Santiago HS). The trio increases UCLA’s all-time roster in the McDonald’s All-American Game to 10 Bruins since its inception in 2002. Other Bruin alumni to play in the game are Nikki Blue (2002), Noelle Quinn (2003), Lindsey Pluimer (2004), Jasmine Dixon (2008), Alyssia Brewer (2008), Markel Walker (2009) and Nirra Fields (2012).
BRUINS IN NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
UCLA ranks in the Top 100 in the country (out of 343 D-I teams) in three statistical categories, coming in at No. 45 in turnovers per game (13.8), No. 50 in turnover margin (2.89) and No. 80 in blocks per game (3.9). Two players rank in the Top 100 in the country as senior forward Atonye Nyingifa ranks No. 29 in double-doubles with 13 on the year (ranks third in the Pac-12), No. 37 in total points (524), No. 61 in points per game (18.7 ppg), No. 63 in steals per game (2.3 spg) and No. 95 in rebounds per game (8.8 rpg). Sophomore guard Nirra Fields ranks No. 58 in total points (495) and No. 99 in points per game (17.7 ppg).
Head Coach Cori Close enters her third year with the Bruins after guiding UCLA to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and a Pac-12 Tournament runner-up finish. She sports an overall record of 52-40 (.565).