Bruins Look to Earn Fourth Seed in Pac-12 Tournament
March 2, 2012
The Bruins (14-14, 9-8 Pac-12) play at Washington (15-12, 7-10) on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Free audio and Gametracker will be available at UCLABruins.com.
UCLA will begin Saturday tied for fourth place in the Pac-12 Conference with Oregon State and Arizona State, at 9-8, in the battle to secure a first-round bye in the conference tournament which begins on March 7 in Los Angeles. The Bruins own the head-to-head tie-breaker with both ASU and OSU by virtue of its perfect record in earlier games against these teams and can secure the No. 4 seed with a win on Saturday.
The Bruins committed a season-high 27 turnovers at Washington State on Thursday night in Pullman and fell to the Cougars, 76-65. Markel Walker led the team with 18 points and nine rebounds. Last Saturday, lone senior Rebekah Gardner 's 21-point effort carried the Bruins to a 72-58 win over Arizona and a split of the season series. Markel Walker added 17 points and 12 rebounds, her 11th double-double of the campaign.
Gardner leads the Bruins with a 15.9 points per game average and 55 steals, is second with 27 three-pointers and third with a 6.5 rebounds per game mark (each mark exceeds her previous season best). The senior is the only player to start all 28 games and has led the team in scoring 13 times. Her 89 career three-point shots rank seventh on the all-time UCLA list.
Gardner's 13-game double-digit scoring steak: 18 at USC, 15 at Stanford, 16 at Cal, 21 v. Wash. State, 17 v. Washington, 17 at Colorado, 15 at Utah, 22 points (career-high 15 reb.) v. Oregon,19 v. Oregon State, 20 v. USC, 16 at Arizona State, 12 at Arizona, 17 v. Stanford.
Gardner has produced at least eight points in all 28 games, at least two steals on 18 occasions and is first on the squad with 23 double-figure scoring games (44 career). She netted a career-high 24 against Tennessee on 9-of-18 shooting and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. She has at least five boards in 17 games.
#23 Markel Walker led the Bruins with 18 points and nine rebounds at Washington State. Last week, she produced her 11th double-double of the season (18th of career) with 17 points and 12 rebounds against Arizona. She totaled 21 points and 11 rebounds against Arizona State. She has climbed into 13th place on the all-time UCLA rebound list (see chart on page three of release).
The junior earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors (second of her career) following her home court performances against the Washington schools which included UCLA's first triple-double since Noelle Quinn in the 2004 season.
Walker has achieved double figure rebound totals in 13 of the last 15 games (not at WSU - nine; at Cal - five). In her triple at home against WSU, she ripped down15 boards to go with 14 points and 10 assists. She had a career-high matching 24 points at Colorado. Walker grabbed a career-best 18 rebounds against Oregon State and was one assist shy of a triple-double in that game, adding nine assists, 16 points.
Of her 224 rebounds, 91 have come on the offensive end, as she is first on the team with 10.7 rpg (at least five in every game), third with 14.3 ppg, third with 76 assists and second with 48 steals. Walker has scored in double figures in 19 of 21 contests and has at least one steal in all but one game (2+ on 15 occasions), producing a season high at home against Cal with four thefts. She has at least four assists on 10 occasions this year.
#1 Thea Lemberger is another of a Bruin quartet that is averaging double figures in points, coming in at 12.2 ppg, which is fourth on the club after hitting double digits in 10 of the last 11 games (not at USC - eight points, and in 21 games overall). She is first on the team with 39 three-pointers and 81 assists.
Lemberger began a seven game double-digits scoring streak against Oregon with 18 points (career-best four three-pointers). She followed up with 13 points-each at Utah (career-high tying six assists) and at Colorado. The sophomore scored 15, all after halftime, in the overtime victory over Washington and 14 versus Washington State. She added 10 at Cal and scored 13 at Stanford; handed out four assists versus one turnover.
Lemberger is averaging 13.4 ppg during Pac-12 play, while producing 13 double-figure games, including two with over 20. She had 22 at Arizona State and went for a career-high 26 at home against Cal (7-11 fg, 3-6 3pt, 9-10 ft). Lemberger had six assists against Tennessee and has at least four helpers in 11 contests. Beyond the arc, she has at least one trey in 20 of her 28 contests.
#5 Mariah Williams is second on the team with 79 assists. She scored six at Washington State. Last week, she dished off for five assists versus Arizona and totaled four assists, three steals against ASU. The junior registered 11 points against Washington on a perfect shooting night (4-4 fg, 3-3 ft, 3-3 3pt.). Her back-to-back baskets in the overtime period lifted the Bruins to a six-point lead with 1:43 to play. At Utah, she produced a career-high 21 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in a career-high 37 minutes.
Williams has started 24 straight games (26 total) and has a 4.7 ppg average. Her total of 30 steals rates fourth on the club.She tied a season high with six assists at Arizona State and has produced at least four assists in 10 contests this season. Williams has two other contests with at least 10 points this season, 13 at LMU, and 11 versus San Diego State.
#34 Corinne Costa totaled eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks at Washington State. Her action against the Arizona schools was limited after feeling some discomfort in her knee. She fouled out with four points at USC in 14 minutes of action. Costa had played 20-plus minutes in 13 straight games until foul trouble helped to halt the streak at Cal on Feb. 9 (17 min.). Her 48 blocked shots this year rank second on the Bruins all-time season list and are the most by a UCLA player since the 1980-81 season (Necie Thompson-53).
Costa had eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks at home against WSU. She scored a career-best 13 versus Washington and matched her own school record total of seven blocks. The sophomore pulled down a career-best 10 rebounds at Colorado. She added 10 points, four blocks against Oregon. Costa put up eight points, seven rebounds at Arizona. She is averaging 4.2 ppg and 3.8 rpg on the year. Costa set a UCLA single-game record with seven blocks earlier this season in the first meeting with California, which broke Natalie Williams' record of six set on March 6, 1992 against Arizona. She has at least one block in 21 of her 26 games (2+ nine times).
#20 Rhema Gardner has brought down 56 rebounds over the past nine games. She had two rebounds before fouling out at WSU. Gardner snagged a career-best 12 boards in a career-high 38 minutes of action against Arizona. In the ASU game, she had nine boards and eight points in 37 minutes. She grabbed four caroms at USC. At Stanford, she blocked two shots and had four rebounds. Her total of six boards tied for the team lead at Cal. She recorded eight points and seven rebounds at home versus Washington State. Rhema collected five boards versus Washington and pulled down seven at Colorado. Gardner had her second-highest scoring output of the season against Oregon State, posting nine points to go with four assists.
Gardner is averaging 3.8 ppg and 4.5 rpg this season, adding 15 blocks, which is second on the squad. Gardner's personal high in points happened versus McNeese State, when she poured in 18. Defensively, she has a block in 11 games, including three at home against Cal and two at home versus USC.
#10 Kacy Swain is averaging 3.2 ppg and 2.1 rpg in 25 contests. She had four points and three boards at WSU. In her fourth start of the year, she produced a career-high 14 points and seven rebounds in a best of 28 minutes against Arizona. The freshman pulled down four boards against ASU in 25 minutes of action. Swain had four points, four rebounds at USC. Swain scored six at home against Washington. She recorded four points, four rebounds against Oregon State.
Freshman walk-on #3 away/ 22 home Madeline Brooks has seen action in 12 games and made her first start at USC. She played a career-high 16 minutes against Oregon, knocking down a three-pointer and grabbing a rebound. She made her collegiate debut against Colgate and scored two at LMU.
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, but have resumed some practice activities.
Atonye Nyingifa, who had 14.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 11 blocks and 18 steals in nine games, tore her right ACL against Tennessee (Dec. 17) 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 LMU.
Moriah Faulk, tore her left ACL against Arizona State (Jan. 7) and will miss the rest of the year. The freshman came off the bench in 15 contests, averaging 5.7 ppg and totaling 15 three-pointers. She had multiple treys in five games, including a perfect 3-for-3 at LMU when she had a season-best 11 points. Faulk also had double-figure games with 10 against both McNeese State and Baylor.
Senior Jasmine Dixon ruptured her Achilles tendon in a team workout in September and will miss the season, while 6-3 senior transfer Alyssia Brewer (Tennessee) will redshirt in '11-'12 and play her final season next year.
POINTS OF INTEREST
UCLA's current mark of 62.7 points per game allowed ranks as the sixth-lowest total in school history ... It is the fifth-straight season in which the UCLA defense has givien up an average which has merited a listing among the top 10 lowest in school history -- 2010-11 No. 1 at 55.3; 2009-10 No. 2 at 57.5; 2008-09 No. 5 at 61.6; 2007-08 No. 7 at 66.3.
Thea Lemberger has played at least 30 minutes in each of the last 26 straight games. She played a total of 108 minutes over the whole of the 2010-11 season. The last Bruin player to end a season with a double-digit rebounding average was Kisa Hughes (1994-95, 10.4).
UCLA made its 101st three-point shot of the season at Washington State, the 8th-best season total in school history.
UCLA set a single-game school record with 13 blocks against California on Dec. 29, which broke the previous mark of 12 on Dec. 4, 1980 against Texas A&M.
UCLA is 11-1 when leading at the half, with the only loss coming at Arizona ... The Bruins won three games (UW, at Colorado, at Utah), in their four-game conference win streak, when trailing at the five-minute mark, their only such wins on the season (now 3-12).
The school record for blocked shots in a season is 108 which was set in 1980-81 ... The current Bruin squad sits at 99 on the year, which is the fifth-most in school history.
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