Jan. 11, 2012
The Battle for Los Angeles rivalry is renewed on the hardwood on Saturday as UCLA (7-8, 2-2 Pac-12) hosts USC (8-6, 3-1) at 2 p.m. at the John Wooden Center. The game will be broadcast live on AM 1150 with Dave Marcus at the call. In addition, free video, free audio and Gametracker will be available at UCLABruins.com.
The game is sold out. Fans looking to watch the matchup can come to campus and wait in the standby line or watch the game streaming live in Ackerman Union. Gates open at 1 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a UCLA rally towel.
The Bruins are coming off a 1-1 weekend in the desert, beating Arizona State (64-48) on Saturday and falling to Arizona (74-66) on Thursday. UCLA is 4-2 at home this season, with both losses coming to nationally-ranked teams.
Rebekah Gardner is tied for the team lead with 14.7 points per game, first with 26 steals, tied for second with 15 three-pointers and third with 6.1 rebounds per game and 28 assists. Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 15 games, at least one steal in 14 of 15 contests (2+ on nine occasions) and is tied for first on the squad with 11 double-figure scoring games (32 career). Last weekend in the desert, she had 16 points, eight rebounds and two treys at Arizona State on Saturday and 12 points, eight boards and two treys at Arizona on Thursday. Gardner, the team leader in minutes per game at 33.7 (fourth in the Pac-12), played 37 and 36 minutes at ASU and UA, respectively. She has three straight double-figure scoring games, 17 to go with six rebounds against Stanford (Dec. 31), as she is averaging 13.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg in league play. 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, Colgate and San Diego State and has two thefts in six more contests. She also has at least five boards in 10 games, including five in a row (6.6 rpg).
Markel Walker has produced double figures in points and has led the Bruins in rebounds in all eight of her contests since returning on Dec. 13 after off-season left thumb surgery. Walker had a pair of double-doubles last week with 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds at Arizona State and 12 points and 12 boards at Arizona to give her nine for her career. Eleven of her 25 rebounds came on the offensive end, as she also added five assists and three steals at ASU. Walker is third on the squad with 13.0 ppg and a 42.0 shooting percentage, tied for first with 8.9 rpg (at least six in every game) and tied for second with 18 steals (one in each contest, 2+ in six). Her season highs in points and steals came against California (Dec. 29) when she had 18 and four, adding eight boards, four assists and a 7-of-8 effort from the free throw line. 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.
Thea Lemberger is another of a Bruin quartet that is averaging double figures in points and leads the team with 18.3 ppg in the first four Pac-12 games. She has a pair of 20-point games to her credit after pouring in 22 on 9-of-12 shooting with three treys at Arizona State. Lemberger also had a 17-point effort with five assists at Arizona and a career-high 26-point outing against California. The sophomore went 7-of-11 from the floor versus the Golden Bears, 3-of-6 from the three and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Lemberger is fourth on the squad with 12.5 ppg and is shooting 73.9% from the free throw line. She is also first with 21 three-pointers, second with 45 assists and tied for first with 11 double-figure scoring games. Lemberger has at least 10 points in six of her last seven, going for 13 at Temple, 12 at Saint Joseph's and 11 against Tennessee. She added a career-best six helpers against the Lady Vols and has at least four assists in six of her last nine games. Lemberger also has at least one trey in 12 of her 15 contests, including three at Temple.
Rhema Gardner had her fifth game this season with at least five rebounds when she had eight at Arizona State. Gardner, who has started 14 of 15 games, is averaging 4.5 ppg and 3.9 rpg to go with 10 blocks. She has at least four boards in five of her last nine, producing five at Saint Joseph's and Loyola Marymount (Dec. 4) and four against Tennessee and Temple. 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 has four other games with at least five points (nine against San Diego State, seven against Tennessee Tech, six versus Colgate and Saint Joseph's).
Mariah Williams has started 11 straight games (13 total) and leads the squad with 47 assists to go with 3.7 ppg and 18 steals, which is tied for second. Williams tied a season high with six assists at Arizona State, adding three points. She has produced at least three helpers in four of her last six games and at least four assists in seven contests this season. The junior also had six assists in the season opener against McNeese State. Williams 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. Williams has a steal in six of her last seven games (nine total), recording a season-best three against LMU and California.
Corinne Costa has played 20-plus minutes in six straight games, including a career-high 31 at Arizona State in just her second career start. She had six points, going 3-of-4 from the field, adding four rebounds, a block and a steal. Two days prior, the sophomore tied a career high with eight points and set a season best with seven rebounds (four offensive) at Arizona in 26 minutes. The team leader in blocks with 23 is averaging 2.9 ppg and 3.7 rpg. Costa set a UCLA single-game record with seven blocks against California, which broke Natalie Williams' record of six set on March 6, 1992 against Arizona. She has at least one block in 13 of 15 games and at least one in six straight (13 total). On the glass, Costa is averaging 4.7 rpg over the last half dozen contests, including five against Cal and six at Saint Joseph's. She tied a career high with eight points versus the Hawks, all in the first half. It was the sophomore's first career start, as she made 4-of-6 from the field.
Moriah Faulk has come off the bench in all 15 contests and is averaging 5.7 ppg with 15 three-pointers, which is tied for second on the team. The freshman has multiple treys in five games, including a perfect 3-for-3 at Loyola Marymount 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), along with seven more with at least five points, including nine versus Stanford and eight against San Diego State and Temple. She had nine points and tied a career high with six rebounds at Arizona, but played only two minutes at Arizona State before leaving with a left leg injury.
Kacy Swain is averaging 2.7 ppg and 1.5 rpg in 13 contests. The freshman recorded four points and three rebounds in 14 minutes at Arizona on Thursday. During the opening weekend of Pac-12 play, 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 tied for first on the team with 14.7 ppg and 8.9 rpg, solo first with a 45.7 shooting percentage, second with 11 blocks and tied for second 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 the Dec. 31 game against Stanford.
POINTS OF INTEREST
UCLA set a single-game school record with 13 blocks against California on Dec. 29, which broke the previous mark of 12 on Dec. 4, 1980 against Texas A&M ... the Bruins are 4-2 at the John Wooden Center, losing only to #6 Tennessee (Dec. 17) and #4 Stanford (Dec. 31) ... UCLA is 6-1 when leading at the half, with the only loss coming at Arizona last Thursday ... the Bruins are 7-1 when outshooting their opponent, but 0-7 when losing that battle.
After dropping their Pac-12 opener to Stanford (61-53) on Dec. 29, the Trojans have won three straight against California (74-54) on Dec. 31, Arizona State (60-48) on Thursday and Arizona (72-67) on Saturday. It is the second, three-game winning streak of the season for USC (Nov. 26-Dec. 4).
Four players are averaging double figures in points, led by senior Ashley Corral's 12.6 ppg to go with a team-best 39 treys and 40 assists. Senior Briana Gilbreath is second with 12.0 ppg and 38 assists, first with 28 blocks and 22 steals and third with 6.4 rpg, while sophomore Cassie Harberts is third with 11.6 ppg and second with 15 blocks. Senior Jacki Gemelos is fourth with 11.0 ppg and first with 7.3 rpg, but is out for the year with an injury. Michael Cooper is in his third year at USC and has a record of 51-31.
The Trojans lead the all-time series 43-33, but the Bruins have won four in a row, including a 61-42 win at Pauley Pavilion last Jan. 8 and a 74-67 triumph at Galen Center on Feb. 6. Both teams have won 18 times in Westwood, but Saturday's matchup will be the first-ever at the John Wooden Center. USC's last win in the series was a 70-63 victory at home on Jan. 17, 2010, while its most recent triumph at UCLA was on Jan. 11, 2009 (87-75).
BRUINS IN THE PAC-12
Rankings through Jan. 7 (Markel Walker will become eligible once she has played in 75 percent of UCLA's games)
Thea Lemberger: Free Throw Pct (6th, .739); 3-Point FG Pct (8th, .368); Assist/Turnover Ratio (9th, 1.3); Minutes Played (10th, 32.7); 3-Point FG Made (12th, 1.4); Assists (T-12th, 3.0); Scoring (15th, 12.5)
Rebekah Gardner: Minutes Played (4th, 33.7); Scoring (7th, 14.7); Steals (T-10th, 1.7); Offensive Rebounds (12th, 2.5); Free Throw Pct (13th, .685); Rebounding (19th, 6.1)
Mariah Williams: Assists (11th, 3.1); Assist/Turnover Ratio (11th, 1.0)
Corinne Costa: Blocks (7th, 1.5)
Moriah Faulk: 3-Point FG Pct (11th, .357)
Team: 3-Point FG Pct Defense (3rd, .272); Offensive Rebounds (5th, 14.2); Free Throw Pct (6th, .678); Steals (6th, 8.1); Turnover Margin (6th, +0.9);