March 20, 2013
LOS ANGELES - The UCLA women's basketball team earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament on Monday and will face No. 14 seed Stetson (24-8, 14-4 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday, March 23 at 10:40 a.m. (PT) on ESPN2 in first-round action.
Selected to the Oklahoma City Region, the Bruins (25-7, 14-4 Pac-12) will play their first-round tournament game at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University.
UCLA finished third in the Pac-12 Conference behind Top 10 teams Stanford and California, which shared the regular season crown with a league mark of 17-1. The Bruins defeated No. 5 California, 70-58, in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and then lost a heartbreaker, 51-49, to No. 4 Stanford in the title game at Seattle's KeyArena on March 10.
This marks UCLA's 12th NCAA Tournament appearance and 19th overall (includes seven AIAW appearances) and is Head Coach Cori Close's first trip as a head coach (in her second season).
The No. 3 seed equals the best seed for UCLA in school history (the Bruins earned a three-seed in 1998-99 and again in 2010-11). Additionally, UCLA is 10-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and has never faced Stetson.
The winner of Saturday's contest will play the winner of No. 6-seed Oklahoma vs. No. 11-seed Central Michigan on Monday, March 25, in Columbus, Ohio. The Bruins defeated the Sooners earlier this season, 86-80, at then No. 11 Oklahoma.
While this is Coach Close's first trip to the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, she is no stranger come March to the NCAA Tournament as she went to 15 straight NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach at Florida State (2005-11) and UC Santa Barbara (1997-2004).
The Bruins went 6-6 this year against the 2013 NCAA Tournament field. UCLA defeated No. 2 seed California (neutral), No. 5 seed Colorado, at No. 6 seed Oklahoma, No. 9 seed Saint Joseph's, No. 9 seed Princeton and at No. 10 seed St. John's. All six of the Bruins' losses were to Top 2 seeds (three to No. 1 Stanford, two to No. 2 California and one to No. 1 Notre Dame).
UCLA last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in March 2011, also as a No. 3 seed, defeating No. 14 Montana in a first-round matchup before losing to No. 6 Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., in a second-round contest.
No. 11/12 UCLA (25-7, 14-4 Pac-12) earned a No. 3 seed and heads to Columbus, Ohio to face 14th-seeded Stetson (24-8, 14-4 Atlantic Sun) in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The game will take place on Saturday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. PT/1:30 p.m. ET in St. John Arena and will be televised live on ESPN2.
While UCLA is 25-7 overall and went 14-4 (third place) in the Pac-12, all four conference losses and six of the seven defeats this season were to Top 7 teams (Top 2 seeds) in the country. UCLA lost to 4th-ranked Stanford (#1 seed) on the road and on a neutral court (Pac-12 Tournament title game), at home to 5th-ranked Notre Dame (#1), at 6th-ranked Stanford (#1), at home to 6th-ranked California (#2) and at 7th-ranked California (#2). The Bruins defeated 5th-ranked California (#2) in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and posted victories at 11th-ranked Oklahoma (#6), vs. 12th-ranked Texas (neutral) and at home over 22nd-ranked Colorado (#5). The Bruins were 4-6 vs. ranked teams this season. It is the most ranked teams UCLA has faced in one season since 2006-07. That year, the Bruins faced 10 Top 25 teams (1-9 vs. ranked teams). Addtionally, UCLA is 6-6 against the 2013 NCAA Tournament field. The Bruins also posted wins at home over No. 9 seed Saint Joseph's and No. 9 seed Princeton and at No. 10 St. John's in overtime. UCLA also went 6-0 vs. the 2013 WNIT field.
After a second-place finish at the Pac-12 Tournament with a 51-49 loss to No. 4 Stanford in the championship game, a 70-58 win over No. 5 California in the semis and a 54-43 quarterfinal win over Utah last week, the UCLA Bruins moved up three spots to No. 11 in the AP Top 25 Poll and one spot to No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. UCLA improved two spots to No. 11 in the NCAA Women's Basketball RPI (NCAA.com). UCLA has been ranked at least one week in both polls in each of the past four seasons.
BRUINS IN STATISTICAL RANKINGS
UCLA is 3rd in the Pac-12 in scoring (67.4 ppg) and is 4th in the Pac-12 and 23rd in the country in rebounding margin (+7.1). The Bruins lead the Pac-12 and rank 17th in the nation in assists (16.3) and also lead the league in steals (10.4). UCLA is also 2nd in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (.423) and 3rd in offensive rebounds (15.6) and three-point field goal percentage (.313).
Seniors Alyssia Brewer and junior Kari Korver and Nirra Fields were both chosen as honorable mention selections to the All-Freshmen Team by the league's head coaches. Markel Walker was also named to the five-member Pac-12 All-Defensive Team by both the media and the coaches.
The senior class of Alyssia Brewer, the class is currently 92-37 (.662), which is second behind the 1981 senior class that went 98-32 (.754). This year's group might have already surpassed the Bruin class that played from 1977-78 to 1980-81, had it not been for last year's 14-16 mark. In that season, Walker missed the first seven games with a thumb injury, Nyingifa missed the last 21 games with a knee injury, Brewer was on the bench due to NCAA transfer rules and Dixon missed the entire season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The 1980-81 senior group started in 1977-78 as Ann Meyers (Drysdale) led the Bruins to a national championship (AIAW) with a 27-3 record. The Bruins, led by Anita Ortega, were 24-10 in 1978-79 and 18-12 in 1979-80. Then with senior Denise Curry and a couple of freshmen phenoms in Necie Thompson and Jackie Joyner, UCLA won a school record 29 games with seven defeats in 1980-81. UCLA is 25-7 this season after last year's 14-16 mark. UCLA also went 28-5 in 2010-11 and 25-9 in 2009-10, to win 25 or more games in three of the last four years, a feat unmatched in Bruin history.
MISSING IN ACTION
Only three of the 13 Bruins have played in all 32 games this season and nobody has started in more than 27 contests, forcing Head Coach Cori Close to go with 11 different starting lineups. Alyssia Brewer missed most (only played three minutes) of the Pepperdine game (Dec. 28) and missed the entire Saint Joseph's game (Dec. 31) with a right ankle sprain. Markel Walker missed the Arizona game (Jan. 25) with back spasms, but returned for the Arizona State game (Jan. 27). The Bruins have used 193 different combinations of players on the court.