BERKELEY, Calif. – UCLA (10-10, 4-4) will face #16/19 California (13-5, 5-2) on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 6:06 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. USC upset the Golden Bears 77-70 at home on Friday, Jan. 24. California is the eighth ranked team UCLA has faced this season (1-6 against the previous seven).
Venue: Haas Pavilion
Arena Capacity: 11,877
Date: Jan. 26, 2014
Times: 6:06 p.m. (PT)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Krista Blunk (play-by-play), Mary Murphy (analyst)
Listen Online: www.uclabruins.com
Internet Audio: Dave Marcus (play-by-play)
UCLA VS. CALIFORNIA
This is the 65th meeting between UCLA and California with the Bruins dominating the series 47-17. California swept the regular season meetings a year ago. The Bruins have won eight of the last 11 against the Golden Bears, including a stunning Pac-12 Tournament semifinal win over 5th-ranked California. Markel Walker matched her season high with 23 points, Jasmine Dixon added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and UCLA advanced to its fourth Pac-12 tournament title game with a dominant 70-58 win. California shot just 29 percent and saw its 16-game win streak come to an end. UCLA avenged two regular-season losses to Cal, including a 28-point loss at home in mid-February. Alyssia Brewer added 13 points and Atonye Nyingifa scored 11 for the Bruins. The Bruins led by as many as 26--the biggest deficit California faced in any game last season.
UCLA erased a 13-point second-half (6:27) deficit to beat Oregon 88-83 on Jan. 17, 2014. It marked the third time this season that the Bruins have come back to win after trailing by double digits (down 14 to No. 10 Oklahoma in the first half and 12 to Grand Canyon in the second half).
Close encounters are becoming the norm this season. UCLA has won by single digits in nine of its 10 victories on the year while 10 of the last 12 games have been decided by single digits. Additionally, the Bruins are 6-3 in 2013-14 in games decided by five or fewer points.
With the Bruins’ 67-61 win at Arizona on Jan. 10, UCLA extended its winning streak against unranked opponents on the road to 12 games (descending chronological order): Arizona, Minnesota, San Diego State, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Pepperdine and St. John’s.
UCLA has lost three key players for the season as the Bruins will be without redshirt freshman Lauren Holiday (3.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) for the remainder of the year, as announced by Head Coach Cori Close last week. Holiday sustained a head injury at the end of the first half of the USC game (Dec. 30). She joins sophomore guard Kari Korver (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior forward Kacy Swain (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg) as players lost for the year. Both of them suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) within a week of each other. Korver also had a tear in her lateral meniscus. Freshman forward Paulina Hersler has yet to play this season due to a knee injury she sustained in Sweden before arriving in the United States.
NYINGIFA CLIMBING THE CHARTS
UCLA sixth-year senior Atonye Nyingifa is currently tied for 3rd on the Bruins’ career list for games played with 127. That mark also ranks tied for third on the NCAA active career list. She is currently 14th on the Bruins’ career scoring list with 1,365 points (behind Necie Thompson - 1981-83 - 1,536), which ranks 59th on the NCAA active career list and sixth in the Pac-12. She is 5th in career rebounds (835, ranks 4th on the Pac-12 active career list). She needs 109 to pass Maylana Martin (935, 1997-2000) for 4th. She is 8th in free throws made (326), which ranks 40th on the NCAA active career charts and 7th in free throws attempted (467), which ranks 42nd on the NCAA active career chart.
ON THE TUBE
This year UCLA has the distinction of having the first televised conference game when they hosted USC (Dec. 30) 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 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 Bruins can boast of having one of the toughest schedules in the country as four of its nonconference games were against teams ranked in the top 12 (at #12/17 Nebraska, vs. #12/14 North Carolina, vs. #10/13 Oklahoma and at #4/5 Notre Dame). The Bruins’ nonconference strength of schedule ranked No. 3 in the country (tops in the Pac-12) and helped the Bruins to a No. 26 overall ranking in the RPI. Ten of the Bruins’ 12 nonconference opponents have a winning record and UCLA’s nonconference opponents are a combined 150-73 for a .673 winning percentage (Nebraska 13-4; Pepperdine 5-14; North Carolina 17-3; Oklahoma 13-7; James Madison 14-4; Grand Canyon 13-5; NC State 17-3; Notre Dame 18-0; San Diego State 6-10; Minnesota 13-7; Auburn 11-8 and Cal Poly 10-8).
UCLA forward Atonye Nyingifa (Torrance, Calif.) established or tied six career-highs in leading the Bruins to an 82-76 upset win over No. 10/13 Oklahoma at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 24 and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Nyingifa tied her career-best with a game-high 28 points and career-bests in free throws made (12) and free throws attempted (15). She completed her second straight double-double against a ranked team with a career-high 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The sixth-year senior also handed out a career-high six assists against the Sooners. The win over Oklahoma was UCLA’s 700th victory in program history.
In the Bruins’ 78-68 setback to No. 12 North Carolina, UCLA had three players record double-doubles (Atonye Nyingifa - 18 pts., 11 rebs.; Nirra Fields - 12 pts., 10 rebs.; Lauren Holiday - 10 pts., 11 rebs.). They became the first trio of Bruins to record a double-double in the same game in over 23 years. In a 79-65 home win over Oregon on Feb. 23, 1990, Sandra VanEmbricqs (22 pts., 14 rebs.), Michele Wooton (17 pts., 10 rebs.) and Rehema Stephens (12 pts., 10 rebs.) were the last to pull off that feat.
In UCLA’s 82-78 home win over Pepperdine (Nov. 11), the Bruins had three players score 20 or more points in the same game (Thea Lemberger 25 pts., Atonye Nyingifa 24 pts., Nirra Fields 20 pts.). It marked the first time since a 91-58 home win over Oregon State on Jan. 31, 2004 (Noelle Quinn 24 pts., Nikki Blue 23 pts., Lisa Willis 21 pts.) that that feat has been matched.
The Bruins duplicated that feat in the 96-89 win over Cal Poly (Dec. 28) when Nirra Fields (36 points), Thea Lemberger (23 points) and Atonye Nyingifa (23 points), combined to score 82 of UCLA’s 96 points.
In the win over Cal Poly, the Bruins had several great individual and team performances. The 96 points scored by UCLA in the win were the most in nearly four years or 125 games (defeated Oregon at home, 104-80, on Jan. 28, 2010). Senior forward Atonye Nyingifa was 11-for-18 from the free throw line. The 18 attempted free throws were a career-high and the second-most in school history (20, Necie Thompson, 2/18/83 vs. CS Fullerton, 11-for-20). Nirra Fields’ career-high of 36 points vs. the Mustangs were the most since Nikki Blue scored 36 against Arizona State on Mar. 5, 2005. The total is tied for the 11th-highest single game performance in UCLA history. Fields also made a career-high five three-pointers against Cal Poly.
In the 66-60 loss to Auburn (Dec. 21, 2013), the Bruins had two individual standout performances. Corinne Costa, who has the UCLA single-game record for blocks with seven, tied it for the third time against the Tigers. Nirra Fields also had a career-high eight steals, which was the most since Markel Walker had eight in a win over Hawai’i (Nov. 19, 2009).
BRUINS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
UCLA ranks in the Top 100 in the country (out of 343 D-I teams) in three statistical categories, coming in at No. 21 in turnovers per game (13.2), No. 47 in turnover margin (3.4) and No. 67 in personal fouls per game (17.4). Two players rank in the Top 100 in the country as senior forward Atonye Nyingifa ranks No. 20 in double-doubles with 10 on the year (ranks third in the Pac-12), No. 43 in total points (360), No. 64 in steals per game (2.42 spg) and No. 77 in rebounds per game (9.1 rpg). Sophomore guard Nirra Fields ranks No. 52 in total points (348) and No. 69 in steals per game (2.3 spg).
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 50-34 (.595).