Dec. 30, 2011
BRUINS CLASH WITH CARDINAL
UCLA (6-6, 1-0 Pac-12) finishes its 2011 portion of the schedule against fourth-ranked Stanford (10-1, 1-0 Pac-12) on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the John Wooden Center. The game will feature free video and audio, as well as Gametracker, at UCLABruins.com. Due to the holiday, parking on campus is free this week.
The Bruins snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday with a 60-55 victory over California in the Pac-12 opener for both teams. Sophomore Thea Lemberger had a career-high 26 points and junior Markel Walker added 18. Defensively, the Bruins set a UCLA single-game mark with 13 blocks, including a school-record seven from sophomore Corinne Costa.
Lemberger made 7-of-11 from the field, 3-of-6 from three-point range and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line, adding four assists. Walker was 7-of-8 from the charity stripe and recorded eight rebounds and a season-best four steals. Costa's seven blocks surpassed the UCLA single-game record set by Natalie Williams, who had six on March 6, 1992 against Arizona. The 13 blocks by the Bruins broke a 31-year-old school record (12 vs. Texas A&M, Dec. 4, 1980). Senior Rebekah Gardner added eight points and five rebounds, as UCLA shot 35.8% (19-53) from the field, but made 85.0% (17-20) of its shots from the free-throw line.
Rebekah Gardner, the team leader in steals with 24, is second on the team with 14.6 points per game and third with 5.8 rebounds per game, 23 assists and 11 three-pointers. Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 12 games, at least one steal in every contest (2+ on nine occasions) and is second on the squad with eight double-figure scoring games. 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 recorded eight points, five rebounds and two steals on Thursday against California.
Markel Walker had a happy homecoming to her native Philadelphia last week. She made her first start of the year at Temple and had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Walker came back two days later against Saint Joseph's and played 19 of 20 minutes in the second half and nearly recorded a double-double with 16 points and nine boards. Walker is averaging 13.2 ppg (third on the team) and 7.8 rpg (second on the team) in five contests since returning from offseason thumb surgery. The junior is also 16-of-20 (80.0%) from the free-throw line and has 17 assists and 12 steals. She had four thefts to go along with eight boards, four assists and a season-high 18 points against Cal, making seven of her eight attempts from the charity stripe. 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 leads the team with nine double-figure scoring contests, including four in a row, and is fourth on the squad with 11.7 ppg. She is tops on the team with 39 assists and 15 three-pointers and is shooting 73.5% (25-34) from the charity stripe. Her four-game streak with at least 10 points includes 12 against Saint Joseph's, 13 at Temple and 11 versus Tennessee. Lemberger added a career-best six helpers against the Lady Vols and has at least four assists in five of her last six games. She also had a personal-best three treys at Temple.
Rhema Gardner, along with her sister and Lemberger, have started all 12 games for the Bruins. She is averaging 5.3 ppg and 4.1 rpg. Gardner has at least four rebounds in four of her last six, 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.
Moriah Faulk has come off the bench in all 12 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 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 on Thursday against California.
Mariah Williams has started eight straight games (10 total) and is averaging 3.9 ppg, while placing second on the team with 36 assists. 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 week, she had six points and four assists at Temple and two points and two steals against Saint Joseph's, adding two points and five assists in Thursday's Pac-12 opener against Cal. 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.
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. Costa, who leads the Bruins with 20 blocks, has 10 in her last three contests. She tied a career high with eight points, all in the first half, against Saint Joseph's last Thursday. 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 2.3 ppg and 3.5 rpg, has at least five boards in four contests. She also has at least one block in 10 of 12 games.
Kacy Swain is averaging 2.9 ppg and 1.6 rpg in 10 contests. She had three points against Temple and four versus Saint Joseph's last week, playing 10 minutes in both games. Swain had two blocks against Cal. 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 14.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg and a 45.7 shooting percentage and second with 18 steals and 11 blocks, 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 at LMU.
The Cardinal come into Saturday's contest on a seven-game winning streak after defeating USC 61-53 on Thursday in their Pac-12 opener. Stanford's only loss this season came at Connecticut (68-58) on Nov. 21. The Bruins and the Cardinal had one common opponent during the non-conference slate, as Stanford beat Tennessee 97-80 (Dec. 20) right after the Lady Vols defeated UCLA 85-64 (Dec. 17).
The Ogwumike sisters lead the way for the Cardinal, as senior Nnemkadi is averaging 23.5 ppg and 11.4 rpg, while sophomore Chiney is posting 14.6 ppg and 9.5 rpg. Nnemkadi is also shooting 61.3% from the field and 81.8% from the free-throw line, while Chiney is second on the club with a 58.3 shooting percentage. Sophomore Toni Kokenis is third on the squad with 10.5 ppg, tied for second with 16 three-pointers and first with 37 assists and 15 steals. Tara VanDerveer is in her 26th year on The Farm and has a record of 684-148 at Stanford and 836-199 mark in 32-plus seasons of coaching.
The Cardinal lead the all-time series with the Bruins 49-22 and have won 11 in a row, including three last season. Stanford won 64-38 in Palo Alto (Jan. 20), 67-53 at Pauley Pavilion (Feb. 20) and 64-55 in the Pac-10 Tournament Championship game (March 12). The Cardinal are 19-11 in Los Angeles, but the teams have split the two all-time matchups at the Wooden Center (1987 - UCLA, 64-49; 1989 - Stanford, 73-71). The Bruins' last win in the series was a 69-56 triumph in Westwood on Jan. 4, 2008.
BRUINS IN THE PAC-12
Rankings through Dec. 29
Atonye Nyingifa: Rebounds (5th, 8.9); Offensive Rebounds (5th, 3.7); Minutes Played (5th, 33.0); Scoring (7th, 14.7); Defensive Rebounds (8th, 5.2); Steals (T-8th, 2.0); Blocks (10th, 1.2)
Thea Lemberger: Minutes Played (8th, 32.4); Free Throw Pct (9th, .735); Assist/Turnover Ratio (13th, 1.3); Assists (15th, 3.3); Scoring (17th, 11.7)
Rebekah Gardner: Minutes Played (4th, 33.2); Steals (T-8th, 2.0); Scoring (9th, 14.6)
Moriah Faulk: 3-Point FG Pct (6th, .400)
Corinne Costa: Blocks (7th, 1.7)
Team: 3-Point FG Pct Defense (5th, .290); Turnover Margin (5th, +1.1); Steals (6th, 8.8); Offensive Rebounds (6th, 14.4)