Jan. 3, 2012
Thursday, Jan. 5
6 p.m. PT - UCLA (6-7, 1-1 Pac-12) at Arizona (11-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Online Coverage: Gametracker | Audio
BRUINS-CATS TUSSLE IN TUCSON
UCLA (6-7, 1-1 Pac-12) begins its road conference schedule on Thursday when they face Arizona (11-2, 0-1) at the McKale Center in Tucson at 6 p.m. MT. The game will be broadcast live at UCLABruins.com with Dave Marcus at the call.
The Bruins are coming off a home split against the Bay Area schools last weekend to start Pac-12 action. UCLA knocked off California 60-55 last Thursday behind a 26-point effort from sophomore Thea Lemberger and a single-game, school-record 13 blocks, including a UCLA single-game best seven by sophomore Corinne Costa. The Bruins dropped their weekend and 2011 finale against fourth-ranked Stanford 77-50 on Saturday. Senior Rebekah Gardner paced the Bruins with 17 points.
Rebekah Gardner leads the Bruins with 14.8 points per game and 25 steals, is second with a 41.7% shooting percentage and third with 5.8 rebounds per game, 25 assists and 11 three-pointers. Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 13 games, at least one steal in every contest (2+ on nine occasions) and is tied for first on the squad with nine double-figure scoring games. Last weekend, she led the Bruins with 17 points to go with six rebounds against Stanford on Saturday, adding eight points, five boards and two steals versus California on Thursday. 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). Gardner tallied three steals versus Tennessee Tech and San Diego State and has two thefts in six more contests. She also has at least five boards in eight games, including three in a row.
Markel Walker has produced double figures in points and has led the Bruins in rebounds in all six of her contests since returning on Dec. 13 after off-season thumb surgery. Walker produced 11 points and seven rebounds against Stanford and had a season-best 18 points and four steals to go with eight boards and four assists versus Cal. The junior also made 12 of her 15 attempts from the free throw line last weekend, as she is shooting a team-best 77.8% (21-27) for the season. Walker is third on the squad with 12.8 ppg and a 41.5% shooting percentage, second with 7.7 rpg and fourth with 14 steals and 18 assists. The junior had a happy homecoming to her native Philadelphia prior to the Christmas break. She made her first start of the year at Temple (Dec. 20) and had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Walker came back two days later against Saint Joseph's (Dec. 22) and played 19 of 20 minutes in the second half and nearly recorded a double-double with 16 points and nine boards. 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, and she had a career night against California. The sophomore posted a personal-best 26 points, going 7-of-11 (63.6%) from the field, 3-of-6 (50%) from beyond the arc and 9-of-10 (90%) from the free throw line, adding four assists and three rebounds. Lemberger, who added eight points against Stanford, is tied for the team lead with nine double-figure scoring contests and is fourth on the squad with 11.4 ppg. She is tops on the team with 39 assists and 15 three-pointers and is shooting 73.7% (28-38) from the charity stripe. The sophomore had a four-game streak with at least 10 points snapped against Stanford after producing 26 against Cal, 12 versus Saint Joseph's, 13 at Temple and 11 against Tennessee. Lemberger added a career-best six helpers against the Lady Vols and has at least four assists in five of her last seven games. She also has at least one trey in 10 of her 13 contests, including three at Temple.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister and Lemberger, have started all 13 games for the Bruins. She is averaging 5.1 ppg and 3.8 rpg. Gardner has at least four rebounds in four of her last seven, 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. Gardner had four points, three boards and a career-high three blocks against California and two points and two steals versus Stanford.
Moriah Faulk has come off the bench in all 13 contests and is averaging 5.9 ppg with 14 three-pointers, which is second on the team. The freshman has multiple treys in five games, including a perfect 3-for-3 at Loyola Marymount (Dec. 4) 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). Faulk had no points and four rebounds against California and six points and three boards versus Stanford.
Mariah Williams has started nine straight games (11 total) and is averaging 3.8 ppg, while placing second on the team with 38 assists and third with 17 steals. 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 weekend, she had two points in both contests, adding five assists and three steals against California and two assists and one steal versus Stanford. Williams' season high in assists came in the opener against McNeese State when she had six. She has at least four helpers in six contests. Williams has a steal in each of her last five games (eight total).
Corinne Costa helped UCLA set a school record for blocks and broke a school mark herself with seven swats against California. The seven blocks broke Natalie Williams' record of six set on March 6, 1992 against Arizona, while the Bruins' 13 blocks bested the previous mark of 12 set on Dec. 4, 1980 against Texas A&M. The sophomore added five rebounds, two points and two steals versus Cal. She posted two points, three rebounds and a block against Stanford. Costa, who leads the Bruins with 21 blocks, has 11 in her last four contests. She tied a career high with eight points, all in the first half, against Saint Joseph's. 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 2.2 ppg and 3.5 rpg, has at least five boards in four contests. She also has at least one block in 11 of 13 games.
Kacy Swain is averaging 2.8 ppg and 1.5 rpg in 11 contests. Last weekend, she had two blocks against California in six minutes and two points and a board in 14 minutes of action versus Stanford. 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.
Atonye Nyingifa, who is first on the team with 8.9 rpg and a 45.7 shooting percentage, second with 14.7 ppg and 11 blocks and third with 18 steals, 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 in six minutes at Loyola Marymount and played the final minute of Saturday's game against Stanford.
The Wildcats dropped their Pac-12 opener to rival Arizona State on New Year's Eve 60-45 in Tempe to fall to 11-2 on the season. Arizona won its first five games of the season, and after a loss to BYU on Dec. 1, won its next six before its setback to the Sun Devils.
Three Wildcats are averaging double figures in points, led by Davellyn White's 18.9 ppg. The junior is also first on the squad with 34 three-pointers, 32 steals and a 78.5 percentage at the free throw line and second with 49 assists and 5.5 rpg. Sophomore Candice Warthen is second with 16.8 ppg, 16 treys and a 48.0 shooting percentage, while sophomore Erica Barnes is third with 12.2 ppg and first with 9.1 rpg and a 49.1 shooting percentage. Niya Butts is in her fourth year at Arizona and holds a record of 58-50.
The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Wildcats 47-19 and have won eight in a row and 11 of 12. UCLA recorded a 74-70 win in Tucson last Feb. 24. The Bruins shot 51.9% from the floor and made 6-of-14 from beyond the arc, as Markel Walker had 16 points and eight rebounds and Rebekah Gardner notched 14 points. UCLA beat Arizona 70-60 at Pauley Pavilion last Jan. 29 behind 22 points and nine rebounds from Jasmine Dixon, as the team shot 45.2% from the floor. The average margin of victory during the Bruins' eight-game winning streak is 10.9 points, including four double-digit victories. Arizona's last win in the series was a 66-63 triumph in Westwood on Feb. 15, 2007. The Wildcats, who are 11-23 at home against the Bruins, last beat UCLA at the McKale Center on Feb. 10, 2005 (76-73), as the Bruins have won their last six in Tucson.
BRUINS IN THE PAC-12
Rankings through Dec. 31
Thea Lemberger: Free Throw Pct (T-8th, .737); Minutes Played (9th, 32.3); Assist/Turnover Ratio (13th, 1.1); 3-Point FG Pct (T-14th, .333); Scoring (18th, 11.4)
Rebekah Gardner: Minutes Played (3rd, 33.2); Scoring (7th, 14.8); Steals (T-8th, 1.9); Free Throw Pct (15th, .673); Offensive Rebounding (15th, 2.3); Rebounding (20th, 5.8)
Moriah Faulk: 3-Point FG Pct (9th, .368)
Corinne Costa: Blocks (7th, 1.6)
Team: 3-Point FG Pct Defense (4th, .280); Turnover Margin (T-4th, +1.2); Steals (6th, 8.6)