Dec. 13, 2011
UCLA (5-2), winners of its last three games, returns to action, following a break for exams, in a non-conference game on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at LSU (4-3). Tip-off is at 5 p.m. Pacific time. The contest can be heard live online at UCLABruins.com.
The Bruins will then return home to square off with another Southeastern Conference opponent, #7/#8-ranked Tennessee, on Saturday, Dec. 17, in the John Wooden Center.
UCLA won its third straight game of the season on Sunday, Dec. 4 at LMU by a score of 84-43. Junior Atonye Nyingifa scored a career-best 28 points, hitting 10 of her 12 field goal attempts, to lead five Bruins in double digits. Nyingifa also grabbed a game-high and career-best matching 14 rebounds in the contest for her fifth double-double of the young season.
Through the first seven games of the season, Nyingifa and senior Rebekah Gardner are tied for the team scoring lead, each with 16.6 point per game averages. Nyingifa leads the squad in rebounding with a 10.6 mark and in shooting percentage at .483.
Rebekah Gardner has three games with at least 20 points and six in a row with double figures. Gardner, who has led the Bruins in scoring in four of seven contests, posted her first-career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 13, going 7-of-14 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. The senior was named to the Preseason WNIT and Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic All-Tournament teams.
Nyingifa is averaging a double-double at 16.6 ppg (T7th in the Pac-12) and 10.6 rpg (T3rd in the Pac-12). Her first two double-doubles of the season came in the Preseason WNIT, as she had 16 points and 12 rebounds against McNeese State (Nov. 11) and 16 points and a career-high 14 boards versus Tennessee Tech. She added another double-double against Colgate with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Nyingifa has six double-figure scoring games this season.
Sophomore guard Thea Lemberger is third in ppg at 10.9 and second with 20 assists and eight three-pointers. She has posted at least eight points in all seven contests, with five double-figure scoring games. Lemberger had a career-best 15 at LMU, 10 against McNeese State, 12 versus Tennessee Tech, 11 at Baylor and 11 against Colgate.
Off the bench, freshman Moriah Faulk has produced at least five points in all seven games, including a career-best 11 at LMU, 10 against McNeese and Baylor and six versus West Virginia and Colgate. She is first on the squad with 11 three-pointers, including 10 in her last five games, and is averaging 8.0 ppg.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister, Nyingifa and Lemberger, has also started all seven games. She is averaging 6.3 ppg and 4.3 rpg. Gardner had a career-high 18 points against McNeese State and pulled down a personal-best 10 rebounds against Colgate.
Mariah Williams has started five times this season and is first on the squad with 22 assists and is averaging 4.7 ppg. She had four assists at LMU, a team-best six against McNeese and four versus Tennessee Tech and San Diego State. Freshman Kacy Swain has started twice, at Baylor and against West Virginia, but left the WVU contest with a concussion. She returned to action at LMU and scored three points with three boards. Swain had nine points off the bench against Tennessee Tech.
Sophomore Corinne Costa leads the Bruins with 10 blocks, notching three at Baylor. Three Bruins, juniors Jackie Shepard (shoulder) and Markel Walker (thumb), 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. Senior Jasmine Dixon ruptured her Achilles tendon in September and is likely to miss the season, while senior transfer Alyssia Brewer will redshirt in '11-'12 and play her final season next year.
LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell's (UCLA's head coach the last three seasons) team had lost its last two games before returning from the exam break on Sunday with a 67-35win over Alabama State. The Tigers, who started the season ranked, lost at home to Northwestern 44-43 and then dropped a 77-68 decision at Ohio State.
The Bruins have not won in two previous trips to Baton Rouge, dropping a 101-87 verdict on the last excursion in January of 1984. LSU bested the Bruins, 55-53, on December 28 last season in Pauley and has won the last two meetings. UCLA is 10-29 all-time against teams in the Southeastern Conference.