Dec. 10, 2002
Women Travel To Pepperdine After Exam Break - After taking a break for exams this week, the Bruins will take a 4-2 record to Pepperdine (3-3) on Saturday for a 5 p.m. game. It will mark the sixth time in seven games that the Bruins have played away from home this season. Pepperdine defeated Oklahoma State 67-64 (Dec. 7) in its last outing. The Waves are led by junior guard Shandrika Lee, who has a 16.5 ppg average. UCLA leads the series with the Waves, 11-1. Pepperdine won the last meeting, 78-56, in Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 28, 2000.
UCLA will return home to Pauley Pavilion on December 19th, to host Baylor at 7:00 pm, and on December 21st, to host Cal State Northridge at 2:00 pm.
Broadcast Info - UCLA's game against Pepperdine will be broadcast on KTDD (1350 am) and KBET (850 am), as well as on the internet at www.uclabruins.com. Tony Luftman and Doug Kim will call the action.
Bruin Rally Falls Short at Georgia - UCLA had its four-game winning streak ended by No. 14-ranked Georgia, 91-83, on Dec. 6 in Athens. The Bruins, who trailed by 20 points at halftime, rallied to close to within three points, 84-81, with thirty seconds left. Georgia then connected on seven-of-eight free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win. Julia Pitts led UCLA with 20 points, while Lisa Willis and Michelle Greco added 12 points each.
Bruins Best St. Mary's In Home Opener - The Bruins used 24 points from guard Nikki Blue to sweep past the Gaels, 72-60, on Dec. 3 in Pauley Pavilion. Blue scored the last nine points of the game for UCLA and totaled all of her points in the second half to lead the Bruins back from a 32-23 halftime deficit. The team shot 61% in the second half, topped by Blue's 9-11 effort. Forward Jamila Veasley added a career-best 12 rebounds, and Julia Pitts scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Las Vegas Tournament Champs - The Bruins won the championship of the Lady Rebel Shootout with a 72-64 win over host team UNLV. Michelle Greco, the Shootout MVP, led the way for the Bruins with 26 points. In the process, Greco moved into 10th place on the all-time school scoring list. Gennifer Arranaga, who joined Greco on the all-Shootout team, came off the bench to add 12 points. Whitney Jones, in her first extensive playing time after joining the team earlier in the week, scored 10 points. The Bruins won the opening game of the Shootout against Northwestern State of Louisiana, 82-74. Greco scored 18 points to pace the Bruin attack. She was joined in double figures by Julia Pitts with 16 (also 11 rebounds), Nikki Blue with 15 and Arranaga with 13. Natalie Nakase hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to hold off a late charge by the Lady Demons.
UCLA Splits Season-Opening Set in Hawaii - UCLA lost to Hawaii 70-66 (Nov. 23) and defeated Sacramento State 106-43 (Nov. 24). Michelle Greco and Lisa Willis led the Bruins against Hawaii with 20 and 18 points, respectively. Against Sac State, Nikki Blue paced the Bruins with 24 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Greco (19), Willis (14) and Pitts (12) also scored in double figures. Greco and Willis each were selected to the all-tournament team.
The Bruins went over the century mark in scoring for the first time since a 1999 game at Cal State Fullerton (108-75), and the margin of victory (+63) was UCLA's greatest since defeating UC Santa Barbara by the same margin on Dec. 15, 1984. True freshmen players scored 56 of the Bruins points in the win over Sac State.
Exhibition Recaps - The team closed exhibition play with a 90-76 win over West Coast All-Stars on Sunday, Nov. 17. Michelle Greco, with 26 points, and Julia Pitts, with 23 points, led the way for the Bruins. Greco added nine rebounds, five assists and three steals while Pitts added 14 rebounds. The Bruins fell just short in the 2002-03 exhibition opener to Love And Basketball, 77-74. Michelle Greco led UCLA by scoring 12 points. Freshmen Julia Pitts, Nikki Blue and Lisa Willis totaled 11 points apiece. UCLA led the game at halftime, 42-40, but Love And Basketball started the second half on a 15-4 run and went on to post the win.
Greco Back To Old Form - Senior guard Michelle Greco has not skipped a beat since returning to the Bruin squad after a year layoff. Greco leads the team in scoring (17.2 average), assists (24) and steals (14) and ranks fourth in rebound average (4.5). She is also the Pac-10 leader in assist/turnover ratio (3.43 avg., 24 assists-7 turnovers).
Jones Rejoins Squad - Two-sport athlete Whitney Jones has rejoined the basketball team after a successful soccer season in which she earned first-team All-Pac-10 acclaim. The soccer Bruins had their season ended in the third round of the NCAA Championships on Nov. 23, and Jones joined the basketball team on Nov. 25. In her first extensive basketball action, she scored 10 points against UNLV on 4-6 shooting. Jones was UCLA basketball's leading scorer in 2002 with a 9.5 per game average and the top returning rebounder with a 5.2 average.
Pitts Hits - At her current pace, freshman forward Julia Pitts could challenge Denise Curry's school record for field goal percentage. Pitts is currently shooting a whopping 71% (29-41) from the field and averages 11.8 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game. Curry's school record is 62.1% (280-451 in 1977-78). Pitts leads the Pac-10 and would rank second in the nation in this category had she been eligible (minimum number of field goals made is 5.0 per game - Pitts has made 4.8 per game).
Freshmen Make Big Contributions - Bruin freshmen Nikki Blue, Julia Pitts and Lisa Willis have accounted for 49% of UCLA's scoring load so far this season. Blue, Pitts and Willis rank in the Top Four on the team in scoring. Blue ranks second behind scoring leader Michelle Greco with 14.0 points per game and is second on the team with 21 assists. Pitts averages 11.8 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with a 6.8 average. Willis is UCLA's top three-point shooter with 14 treys (44% from beyond the arc).
2002-03 Outlook - Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back nine letterwinners, including four of the top five scorers, and adds five talented newcomers for the 2002-03 season. Four returning starters are back, as is the 2001 Pac-10 scoring champ Michelle Greco, who is cleared to play after a medical redshirt season a year ago.
Coach Olivier welcomes five outstanding newcomers to the team. All-Everything guard Nikki Blue (West High School in Bakersfield, CA) was regarded by several publications as the No. 1 combo guard in the nation. Guard-forward Lisa Willis was a member of one the nation's most successful prep programs at Narbonne High School. Guard Ortal Oren was a member of the Israeli Junior National team. Forward Julia Pitts was the Cal-Hi Sports Female Athlete of the Year after starring the sports of basketball, volleyball and track at North Torrance High School. Forward-center Emma Tautolo, daughter of former Bruin footballer, John, averaged 21 points a game at Moreno Valley High School.
Greco: Pre-Season All-Conf. - Michelle Greco was selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team for the second consecutive year. She was joined by Stanford's Nicole Powell, USC's Ebony Hoffman, Washington's Loree Payne and Oregon's Shaquala Williams.
Pac-10 Pre-Season Polls - The Pac-10 media selected the Bruins to finish seventh in the conference race this season in a pre-season poll. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Washington (two first-place votes), Oregon, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State, California and Washington State.
The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish eighth in the conference. Stanford was the near unanimous choice to finish first, followed by Washington, Oregon (one first-place vote), USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, California and Washington State.
Greco: Pre-Season All-American - Michelle Greco was selected to the Women's Basketball News Service pre-season All-America second team, joining Stanford's Nicole Powell (first team) as the only two Pac-10 honorees.
Blue Earns Pre-Season Honors - Freshman guard Nikki Blue was selected by Women's College Hoops.com as one of 21 "Freshmen of Impact" for 2002-03 and was also named to the Women's Basketball News Service pre-season All-Freshman team.
Pac-10 Tournament Notes - The 2002-03 season will conclude with the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be played at the HP Pavilion in San Jose,CA on March 7-10. All conference schools will participate in the tournament, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2003 NCAA tournament. The team that finishes the regular season atop the Pac-10 standings, based on the results of the double round robin play, is the conference champion.
Greco Aims For Record Books - Senior guard Michelle Greco will look to keep climbing the UCLA scoring charts in 2002-03. She entered the season ranked No. 15 on the career points chart and has moved into 10th place on the charts. In addition, Greco looks to challenge Denise Curry's long-standing career free throw percentage mark of .818. Greco's career free throw percentage currently stands at .819 (240-293).
Upcoming Special Events - UCLA basketball teams will hold toy drives at home games on Dec. 17 and Dec. 21.