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Seniors Thea Lemberger (left) and Atonye Nyingifa look to lead the Bruins in 2013-14.
No. 25 UCLA Opens 2013-14 Season at No. 12/17 Nebraska
By: UCLA Athletics

LOS ANGELES – The No. 25 UCLA women’s basketball team opens the 2013-14 season at No. 12/17 Nebraska. The game is scheduled for Nov. 8 and will tip-off at 10:06 a.m. (PT)/12:06 p.m. (CT). It will be televised on NET (in Nebraska) and streamed on (premium). You can listen to free audio on

Venue: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Arena Capacity: 15,147
Time: 10:06 a.m. (PT)/12:06 p.m. (CT)
TV: NET (in Nebraska) and streamed on (premium)
Talent: Jon Schuetz (play-by-play), Brenda VanLengen (analyst)
Listen Online:
Internet Audio: Dave Marcus (play-by-play)

The UCLA Bruins lead the all-time series with Nebraska 4-1. However, the Cornhuskers won the last meeting, 83-70 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on March 23, 2010. The Bruins won the first four meetings in the series, including a 72-63 win in Lincoln on Feb. 3, 1979. UCLA is 2-0 against the Huskers in Los Angeles (Jan. 11, 1977 and Jan. 10, 1984) and posted an 85-67 neutral site win over Nebraska in Hawaii on Nov. 27, 1998.

The Bruins return two senior starters from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four seasons. Leading scorer senior forward Atonye Nyingifa (11.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and senior guard Thea Lemberger (8.6 ppg, 2.6 apg) will lead a young but talented squad.

UCLA also returns sophomore guard Nirra Fields (7.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg), who scored the Bruins’ single-game high of 26 points last year in a home win over Princeton (Nov. 25).

The Bruins also regain the services of three players that missed most of last season due to injury. Redshirt junior forward/center Corinne Costa (4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg) only played five games last year while redshirt freshman guard Lauren Holiday (1.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg) only played in three contests. Both will be back this season, as will redshirt junior guard/forward Rhema Gardner, who missed the entire season with a knee injury. UCLA also retains the services of its newest scholarship player (former walk-on), junior guard Madeline Brooks (0.5 ppg, 0.1 rpg).

The Bruins have already lost two key players for the season as they will be without sophomore guard Kari Korver (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior forward Kacy Swain (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg). Both suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) within a week of each other. Korver also had a tear in her lateral meniscus.

However, the Bruins bring in a recruiting class that features freshman guard Dominique Williams (Phoenix, Ariz./St. Mary’s Catholic), freshman forward Paulina Hersler (Södertälje, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium), freshman center Savanna Trapp (Esko, Minn./Esko HS) and junior center Luiana Livulo (Lisbon, Portugal/Northwest Florida State).

While Trapp is slated to redshirt the season and Hersler might not be available until the start of conference season while rehabilitating from a knee injury, Williams and Livulo will look to make an immediate impact.

UCLA is ranked No. 25 in the pre-season USA Today/Coaches Poll. The Bruins' 2013-14 schedule is loaded with nationally-ranked teams as a total of seven of them are in the pre-season Top 25. The Bruins have three on the schedule that are ranked in the Top 10. Stanford comes in at No. 3, while Notre Dame is ranked 7th and California is ranked 9th. Also on the Bruins' schedule is No. 11 North Carolina, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 19 Colorado.

This year UCLA will have the distinction of having the first televised conference game when they host USC on Dec. 30, 2013 (7:00 p.m.) and the last televised conference game on March 2, 2014 when they visit Utah (1:00 p.m.). The Bruins will be making a total of 18 television appearances, the most in school history, during the 2013-14 regular season.

UCLA posted a 26-8 overall record and a third-place finish in the competitive Pac-12 Conference (14-4) last year. A consistent team all season, the Bruins compiled four separate winning streaks of at least five games, including two streaks of six consecutive victories.

UCLA advanced to the Pac-12 Tournament title game, losing by a 51-49 margin to top-seeded Stanford, before cruising past Stetson, 66-49, in a first-round meeting of the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins’ season ended with an 85-72 setback to Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

UCLA was selected to finish fifth in both the Pac-12 conference’s preseason coaches and media polls. Stanford was picked to finish first, followed by California, Colorado and Washington. After the Bruins, USC was selected to finish sixth, followed by Utah and Oregon State.

The 2013-14 UCLA women’s basketball team has once again put together a challenging non-conference schedule for its upcoming season. The Bruins finished the 2012-13 season with a strength of schedule RPI rating of 11th in the country for the entire season and that number was at No. 6 for the non-conference portion of the season.

In all, the Bruins will play eight different teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and that is up by one from last year’s tough schedule. The Bruins will face another six squads that were selected for the NIT field.

The Bruins will open the season on the road at No. 12/17 Nebraska on Nov. 8. The Cornhuskers were 25-9 last year and reached the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, the game in Lincoln, Neb., will be the first women’s basketball game in Nebraska’s new Pinnacle Bank Arena. Then the Bruins return to Los Angeles for their home opener with local foe Pepperdine on Nov. 11.

The Bruins then host a pair of powerhouses on back-to-back Sunday afternoons. First in town will be No. 11/12 North Carolina (Nov. 17), which went 29-7 last year before exiting in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Then comes the rubber match with No. 11/14 Oklahoma (Nov. 24), as the two teams split a pair of games last year. The Sooners lost in the “Sweet 16” a year ago, recording a 24-11 mark.

The Bruins spend the majority of December on the road. First, UCLA heads to Naples, Fla., for three games (Nov. 29-Dec. 1) in the Gulf Coast Showcase. The Bruins open with James Madison, which reach the “Elite Eight” of the postseason WNIT in 2013 (the other two games are TBD). Then UCLA will play its first of two Final Four teams from 2013 when it makes a trip on Dec. 7 to South Bend, Ind., to face No. 6/7 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish was 35-2 a year ago and finished ranked No. 2 in the RPI. UCLA will then head to San Diego for a game with the Aztecs. San Diego State was 25-7 last year and lost in the second round of the WNIT. The Bruins will take part in a holiday tournament in Minneapolis, Minn., for two games in the Golden Gopher Classic. UCLA will square off with the hosts, Minnesota, on Dec. 20 and then face Auburn on Dec. 21. Both of the teams made the WNIT last year with Minnesota falling in the first round (18-14) and Auburn losing in the “Elite 8” (19-15).

UCLA closes out its non-conference schedule after the holiday break with a home game against NCAA Tournament participant, Cal Poly, on Dec. 28. The Mustangs, which suffered a first-round setback, were 21-11 last year.

The Bruins will face a guaranteed 18 of 28 regular season games against teams that made the postseason last year and a possibility of 20 of 30 games once the Gulf Coast Showcase pairings are determined.

Head Coach Cori Close enters her third year with the Bruins after guiding UCLA to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and a Pac-12 Tournament runner-up finish. She sports an overall record of 40-24 (.625).

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