Dec. 16, 2011
BRUINS HOST TENNESSEE
UCLA (5-3) had a three-game win streak snapped in a 58-41 setback at LSU on Tuesday and will look to bounce back on Saturday when it takes on sixth-ranked Tennessee (6-2) at 2 p.m. in the sold out John Wooden Center. Former Bruin and current L.A. Sparks player Noelle Quinn will be on hand for a post-game autograph session. The contest can be seen live online at UCLABruins.com.
The Bruins will hit the road again for a pair of games in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 20 (Temple) and Dec. 22 (St. Joseph's) before breaking for the holidays.
UCLA welcomed back junior Markel Walker to the lineup at LSU, but it was not enough to overcome the stingy defense of the Tigers. Walker, who had been recovering from off-season thumb surgery, was the lone Bruin in double digits with 11 points.
Through the first eight games of the season, senior Rebekah Gardner has emerged as the team's leading scorer with a 15.5 ppg mark. Junior Atonye Nyingifa tops the Bruin rebounders with a 9.6 average and also sports a 15.3 scoring average.
PLAYERS IN BRIEF
Rebekah Gardner has three games with at least 20 points and had a streak of six games in a row with double figures stopped at LSU. Gardner, who has led the Bruins in scoring in four of eight contests to date, posted her first-career double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 13. The senior was also named to the Preseason WNIT and Holiday Inn Thanksgiving Basketball Classic All-Tournament teams.
Atonye Nyingifa is averaging close to a double-double (15.3 ppg/9.6 rpg). 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 fourth in ppg at 9.8 and is the team leader with 24 assists. She has posted five double-figure scoring games. Lemberger had a career-best 15 at LMU, 10 v. 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 six games, including a career-best 11 at LMU, 10 against McNeese State and Baylor and six versus West Virginia and Colgate. She is first on the squad with 12 three-pointers, including 11 in her last six games, and is averaging 7.4 ppg.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister, Nyingifa and Lemberger, has started all eight games. She is averaging 6.0 ppg and 4.1 rpg. Rhema had a career-high 18 points against McNeese State and pulled down a personal-best 10 rebounds against Colgate.
Mariah Williams has started six times this season and is second on the squad with 22 assists and is averaging 4.6 ppg. She had four assists at LMU, a team-best six against McNeese and four-each 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 is tied with Nyingifa for the team lead with 10 blocks, notching three at Baylor.
Two Bruins, junior Jackie Shepard (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 at LMU.
Senior Jasmine Dixon ruptured her Achilles tendon in September and is likely to miss the season, while senior transfer Alyssia Brewer (Tennessee) will redshirt in '11-'12 and play her final season next year.
UCLA's lone win in the series came in Knoxville, TN on Jan. 3, 1981 by a score of 65-62. Eight of Tennessee's 17 wins in the series have come in Los Angeles and one was on a neutral court. The Lady Vols have captured the last 14 meetings.
Tennessee is coming off of a 67-61 win at 11th-ranked Rutgers on Dec. 13. Shekinna Stricklen tops the Lady Vols with a 16.9 scoring average. The 6-2 senior also leads the team with 13 steals and is second on the team with an 8.8 rebounding mark.
The Lady Vols are coached by Pat Summitt, who is in her 38th season at the helm and has captured eight NCAA championships and 31 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. The all-time winningest coach in the college game with 1,077 victories to date, she played on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team and was the coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic squad. Tennessee has made 30 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians during her tenure.
UCLA is 10-30 all-time against teams in the Southeastern Conference.