Dec. 2, 2002
Bruins Welcome St. Mary's for Home Opener - The Bruins, 3-1 after winning the championship of the Lady Rebel Shootout, play St. Mary's in the home opener on Tue., Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. The game will be broadcast live on the radio on Fox Sports AM 1150. St. Mary's won its last game versus Idaho, 75-57, to even its record at 2-2 on the year. The Gaels lost their opening game at UNLV, 68-56. Sophomore forward Triola Jackson leads SMC in scoring (17.3 avg.) and rebounding (11.3). UCLA owns a 20-8 all-time record in home openers. Following the St. Mary's game, the Bruins will play at the University of Georgia on Friday night at 7:00 pm local time. The 14th-ranked Lady Bulldogs (2-1) play at Arizona State on Dec. 2 and lost at Arizona over the weekend, 70-49.
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.
Coach Olivier Makes Successful Return to Vegas - UCLA head coach Kathy Olivier returned home to her alma mater, UNLV (Class of 1982), last weekend at the Lady Rebel Shootout and became the first coach ever to defeat the Lady Rebels at Cox Pavilion. Olivier not only finished her playing career at UNLV (she averaged 16.3 points as a junior and 20.2 points as a senior), she also began her coaching career there as a grad assistant.
UCLA Splits Season-Opening Set in Hawaii - The Bruins split a pair of games in Hawaii over the weekend. 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 UCLA women's basketball 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 is averaging 20.8 points and 3.0 steals per game to lead UCLA and ranks second on the squad in assists with 18 and third in rebounding with a 3.8 average.
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 68% (17-25) from the field and averages 10.3 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game. Curry's school record is 62.1% (280-451 in 1977-78).
Freshmen Make Big Contributions - Bruin freshmen Nikki Blue, Julia Pitts, Lisa Willis and Emma Tautolo have accounted for 45% of UCLA's scoring load so far this season. Blue, Willis and Pitts rank in the Top 3 on the team in scoring, with all three averaging double figures. Blue ranks second behind scoring leader Michelle Greco with 12.3 points per game and is tops on the team with 18 assists. Willis and Pitts each average 10.3 points per game, and Pitts leads the team in rebounding with a 7.3 average. Willis is UCLA's top three-point shooter with nine treys (47.4% from beyond the arc). Tautolo has contributed 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. UCLA's fifth freshman, Ortal Oren, has yet to see action after serving a three-game suspension for playing on a club team in Israel with players the NCAA considered to be professionals.
Greco Named To Pre-Season All-Conference Team - 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 Named 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 moved into 10th place on the charts with 1,241 points after a 26-point effort at UNLV. 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).
Recruiting Class Ranked In Top 10 - Blue Star Report (No. 7) and All Star Girls Report (No. 6) have ranked Kathy Olivier's 2002 early signing period recruiting class among the top 10 in the nation. On Nov. 14, Olivier announced the signing of Noelle Quinn of Bishop Montgomery High School (Torrance, CA), forward Amanda Livingston of Troy High School (Fullerton, CA), center Consuelo Lezcano of Marathon High School in Florida and guard Shaina Zaidi from Marlborough High in Los Angeles.
Quinn, a 6-0 guard, averaged 21.9 points, 11.6 boards, 3.8 steals and 2.3 blocks last season while being named the California State Player of the Year for Division III. She helped lead her team to three consecutive CIF Division III state championships and was also chosen the Division III-A CIF Southern Section Player of the Year as a junior. Quinn is ranked as the No. 1 two-guard in the country in the class of 2003 by All-Star Girls Report and as the number eight recruit in the nation by Student Sports. Livingston, a 6-1 forward, averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds a game as a junior last season at Troy High School. She was first-team All-CIF II-AA and led her team to a 29-4 record and the final of the Southern Section Division 2-A. Lezcano, a 6-4 center, is considered one of the top five prep players in Florida. She averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks a game as a junior at Marathon High School and is ranked amongst the top-30 post players in the country by All-Star Girls Report. Zaidi, a 5-8 point-guard, averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Marlborough High School last season. She earned all-league honors and was named first-team Division IV-AA All-CIF Southern Section.