LOS ANGELES – UCLA (12-17, 6-11) concludes the regular season on Sunday, March 2, when it travels to Salt Lake City to face Utah (11-17, 4-13). The game is slated for a 1:06 p.m. PT/2:06 p.m. MT tip-off and will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks and will also air on KEIB - AM 1150.
Venue: Jon Huntsman Center
Arena Capacity: 15,000
Date: Mar. 2, 2014
Time: 1:06 p.m. (PT)/2:06 p.m. (MT)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Brian Webber (play-by-play), Cindy Brunson (analyst)
Online Audio: www.uclabruins.com
Radio: KEIB - AM 1150
Talent: Dave Marcus (play-by-play)
UCLA VS. UTAH
The Bruins lead the all-time series with Utah, 6-3. Utah won three of the first four games in the series, but UCLA has won the last five contests, all since Utah joined the Pac-12 Conference. The Bruins defeated the Utes in the only conference meeting last season, a 70-42 win in Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 3, 2013. UCLA would also post a 54-43 win over Utah in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament in Seattle. The Bruins defeated Utah in this year’s earlier meeting in Pauley Pavilion, 55-38 on Jan. 3. Sophomore Nirra Fields led the Bruins with 21 points, while senior Atonye Nyingifa added her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Nyingifa also set a career high with five steals. Freshman Emily Potter led Utah with 10 points and senior Michelle Plouffe was one of four Utes with at least six rebounds, as she pulled down 10. The Bruins made their first three shots of the game and jumped out to a 10-0 lead that it never relinquished. UCLA shot just 30.8% in the second half and 36.2% overall but continued its strong play on the defensive end, holding Utah to 27.3% from the field. Leading 40-34, UCLA scored seven consecutive points (five by Fields) and used heavy pressure late to finish off the Utes, as senior Thea Lemberger secured her career high-tying fifth steal. Lemberger also scored 17 points. Utah controlled the boards 47-37, but 16 total steals by the Bruins towards 25 Ute turnovers were the difference. Utah’s last win in the series came on Dec. 1, 2001 in Salt Lake City by a score of 89-42.
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
Atonye Nyingifa became UCLA’s all-time leader in games played at USC (Feb. 8) and now has 136. That mark also ranks tied for 6th on the NCAA active career list. She is currently 13th on the Bruins’ career scoring list with 1,541 points (behind Lindsey Pluimer - 2005-08 - 1,556), which ranks 55th on the NCAA active career list and 5th in the Pac-12. She is 6th in career rebounds (905, ranks 4th on the Pac-12 active career list and 24th on the NCAA active list). She needs 20 to pass Markel Walker (925, 2010-2013) for 5th. She is 4th in free throws made (364), which ranks 44th on the NCAA active career charts and 4th in free throws attempted (533), which ranks 35th 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 209-109 for a .660 winning percentage (Nebraska 21-5; Pepperdine 5-21; North Carolina 21-6; Oklahoma 17-12; James Madison 23-4; Grand Canyon 17-8; NC State 23-5; Notre Dame 27-0; San Diego State 10-14; Minnesota 17-11; Auburn 15-12 and Cal Poly 15-11).
BRUINS AND THE McDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN GAME
Three Bruin signees, Recee’ Caldwell, Jordin Canada and Lajahna Drummer, were named to the 12-woman roster to represent the West in the 13th edition of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. The three give UCLA the most players in the 2014 game and are the most to play in one game in school history. The three players are part of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for the Bruins which consists of Canada (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS), Caldwell (San Antonio, Texas/FEAST), Drummer (Inglewood, Calif./Long Beach Poly), Kelli Hayes (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS) and Monique Billings (Corona, Calif./Santiago HS). The trio increases UCLA’s all-time roster in the McDonald’s All-American Game to 10 Bruins since its inception in 2002. Other Bruin alumni to play in the game are Nikki Blue (2002), Noelle Quinn (2003), Lindsey Pluimer (2004), Jasmine Dixon (2008), Alyssia Brewer (2008), Markel Walker (2009) and Nirra Fields (2012).
BRUINS IN NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
UCLA ranks in the Top 100 in the country (out of 343 D-I teams) in three statistical categories, coming in at No. 45 in turnovers per game (13.8), No. 50 in turnover margin (2.89) and No. 80 in blocks per game (3.9). Two players rank in the Top 100 in the country as senior forward Atonye Nyingifa ranks No. 29 in double-doubles with 13 on the year (ranks third in the Pac-12), No. 37 in total points (524), No. 61 in points per game (18.7 ppg), No. 63 in steals per game (2.3 spg) and No. 95 in rebounds per game (8.8 rpg). Sophomore guard Nirra Fields ranks No. 58 in total points (495) and No. 99 in points per game (17.7 ppg).
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 52-41 (.559).