UCLA Wraps Up Non-Conference Play Against UC Riverside Friday At 2 PM

Dec. 20, 2007

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Gameday Central
DATE: Fri., Dec. 21
GAME TIME: 2 pm
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
GAME SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)
TICKETS: Reserved - $12/10; GA - $8/6; 310/UCLA-WIN or tickets.ucla.edu
VIDEO/AUDIO: uclabruins.com (free)
TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Michael Sondheimer (color)

Bruins Welcome Highlanders
UCLA (4-6) will play host to UC Riverside (2-7) on Friday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion in the Bruins' final non-conference game before next week's Pac-10 opener. The Bruins bested UCR, 70-60, last season in Riverside. UCLA leads the all-time series, 3-0.

The Bruins are in the midst of a challenging stretch of games in which nine of 11 opponents played in the post-season a year ago - Idaho State (NCAA Tournament), San Diego (WNIT), BYU (NCAA Trny.), Tennessee (NCAA champions), UC Riverside (NCAA Trny.), Arizona State (NCAA Trny.), Stanford (NCAA Trny.), California (NCAA Trny.) and Washington (NCAA Trny.).

Two Bruin players are averaging in double-figures, led by senior Lindsey Pluimer (14.3 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game). Freshman Nina Earl also averages in double digits with a 10.5 mark. Three other members of UCLA's freshman class are just shy of averaging in double figures - Doreena Campbell, 9.1 ppg; Regina Rogers, 8.7 ppg; Darxia Morris, 8.7. UCLA's team scoring average of 75.4 points per game entering the week ranked 12th in the nation.

About UC Riverside
UC Riverside enters Friday's contest with a 2-7 record after dropping a 62-49 decision to Kansas on Dec. 16. The Highlanders have faced a challenging schedule and have lost to the likes of Minnesota, California, Oklahoma State and Auburn, while posting wins over Gonzaga and UNLV.

The Highlanders will be without the reigning Big West Conference Player of the Year, senior forward Kemie Nkele (16.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg), who injured her knee in the Kansas game. Junior guard Seyram Gbewonyo, who averages 11.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest, will try to pick up some of the slack. UCR junior guard Chanel Foster is the sister of former UCLA running back DeShaun Foster (1998-01), who is now with the Carolina Panthers. DeShaun is the third leading rusher in UCLA football history with 3,194 yards.

UCR captured its first-ever Big West Conference regular season championship in 2006-07 and won the conference tournament for the second-straight season to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Last Time Against UC Riverside
Timely second-half baskets from senior Shaina Zaidi helped the Bruins hold off UC Riverside in a 70-60 victory in Riverside last season. Amanda Livingston recorded her first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Noelle Quinn led all players with 19 points. Lindsey Pluimer added 14 points, and Chinyere Ibekwe had eight rebounds and two steals. Foul trouble plagued the Highlanders, as Kemie Nkele and Amber Cox both fouled out. UCR sent UCLA to the free throw line 27 times.

Fresh Faces
The Bruin freshmen have been as good as advertised, playing pivotal roles on the team. Five of the six freshmen have played in all 10 games, while the sixth has played in seven. Doreena Campbell joins senior Lindsey Pluimer as the only Bruins to start all 10 games. Regina Rogers has started eight games, Darxia Morris seven and Nina Earl two. Campbell leads the Bruins in assists (33) and minutes played (30.2 average) and entered the week as the Pac-10 leader in assist/turnover ratio (2.64) and three-point field goal percentage (.556). Morris owns the team lead in steals with 21. Rogers is tied for the top spot as the team's best offensive rebounder (25), and Candice Brown leads the team with a .615 (8-13) field goal percentage. Twice in the last three games, five freshmen have been on the court at the same time for the Bruins.

Pluimer Powers Bruins
UCLA's lone senior, forward Lindsey Pluimer, continues to lead the Bruins both on and off the court. Pluimer, a 2007-08 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award nominee, two-time Academic All-District selection and 2006-07 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection, has started every game since her freshman season for a total of 102 career starts. Pluimer is one of just seven Bruins to record at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 60 blocked shots for a career, and she is one of 16 Bruins to have scored at least 1,000 points and pulled down at least 500 rebounds for her career.

Pluimer is set to move up considerably in the UCLA record books. She currently ranks 14th in career scoring with 1,261 points and also has 612 career rebounds, four away from moving into the Top 15. Four more blocked shots will move her from eighth to seventh on the career list. Pluimer currently has 70.

Campbell Nationally Ranked
Guard Doreena Campbell has played more like a veteran than a freshman, averaging 9.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and just 1.7 turnovers per game in 10 starts. She began the week ranked 13th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio (2.64) and is the top-ranking freshman in the nation in that category. Campbell is second on the team in 3-point field goal percentage (10-19, .526) and first in assists (33) and minutes played (30.2 average). Campbell recorded seven steals in the season opener at Cal State Northridge.

Rebounding Rogers
Freshman center Regina Rogers totaled 16 rebounds on Nov. 28 at Pepperdine, including 10 on the offensive end. Her 16 rebounds were the most by a Bruin player since Kristee Porter had 16 boards against Arizona on Jan. 20, 2001. Rogers is tied for the team lead in offensive rebounds with 25 and is second in total rebounds (50) and with a 5.0 average.

Her Name Is Earl
Freshman forward Nina Earl has been making a name for herself in her freshman season, ranking second on the Bruin squad in scoring with a 10.5 points per game average. Earl has scored in double figures six times on the year, with a high of 17 points in a starting role against Cal Poly. Earl leads the team in free throw attempts with 33 and is one of five Bruin players with double-digit steal totals (11).

First Starts
Four of the five players to earn the starting nod from coach Kathy Olivier in the opener at Cal State Northridge made their first collegiate starts. Sophomores Erica Tukiainen and Moniquee Alexander made their first career starts at Northridge. Tukiainen appeared in all 32 games last season off the bench. Alexander saw action in 31 games last season, but did not start a contest.

True freshmen Darxia Morris and Doreena Campbell each merited a starting assignment in their first collegiate games. It was the first time a Bruin team has started as many as two true freshmen in the first game of a season since the 2002-03 season when Julia Pitts and Nikki Blue were in the starting lineup at Hawaii. The last time the Bruins put out a starting lineup that included more than two freshmen in the starting lineup in the season opener was in the 1996-97 opener against St. Mary's when four freshmen, including three true freshmen, took the floor for the jump (true freshmen - Melanie Pearson, Maylana Martin, Carly Funicello; redshirt freshman Takiyah Jackson).

In game two against Rice, the Bruins started three freshmen - center Regina Rogers and guards Campbell and Morris. Rogers made her first career start in the Rice game. The same group started at Pepperdine. Another freshman received her first starting assignment in game three against Cal Poly, as Nina Earl joined two other classmates (Rogers and Campbell) in the starting lineup.

The Bruins have utilized six different starting lineups in the 10 games this year and have used the same lineup in back-to-back games just twice.

Top-Ranked Vols Top Bruins
UCLA gave another Top 3 team a run for its money, this time challenging the top-ranked Lady Vols in a 82-70 defeat. The Bruins held a four-point lead late in the first half before Tennessee snatched the lead back just before halftime, 32-31. The Lady Vols hit nine of their first 11 shots from the field in the second half to help pull away from the Bruins before another late UCLA charge trimmed the lead to nine with three minutes to go. Lindsey Pluimer led UCLA with 16 points, and Moniquee Alexander scored a career-high 11.

Cougars Prevail
BYU bested the Bruins 68-58 on Nov. 15 in Provo, UT. A 15-0 second-half Cougar scoring run did in the Bruins. Nina Earl and Lindsey Pluimer each scored 13 points to lead the Bruins. Pluimer added nine boards.

Challenging '07-08 Schedule
The Bruins have already played host to the past two NCAA championship teams this when it welcomed 2005-06 title holder Maryland on Nov. 25 and 2006-07 champ Tennessee on Dec. 19 to Pauley Pavilion. In all, the Bruins will battle five teams which won their conference or conference tournaments a year ago - Tennessee (SEC), BYU (Mountain West), UC Riverside (Big West), Stanford (Pac-10), Idaho State (Big Sky).

Nine opponents advanced to play in the NCAA Tournament in 2007 - Maryland, Idaho State, BYU, Tennessee, UC Riverside, Arizona State, Stanford, Cal, and Washington - and three more played in the WNIT - Rice, San Diego, and Oregon. Beginning on the first of December with a game against Idaho State, the Bruins will face nine teams in an 11-game stretch which advanced to post-season play during the 2006-07 season.

Three UCLA opponents are currently ranked in the Top 5 in the current AP rankings - No. 1 Tennessee, No. 4 Maryland and No. 5 Stanford.

2007-08 Outlook
Head coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back seven letterwinners (three starters) from last year's team and perhaps the deepest and most highly-regarded recruiting group in school history. The list of returnees includes three of the top five scorers, the top two shot blockers, two of the top three assist makers, three of the top four in steals, and two of the top three in rebounding average. There are three returning starters in the mix, and each ranked among the Pac-10 leaders in at least one statistical category in the 2006-07 season.

Leading returning scorer Lindsey Pluimer (15.5 ppg) tops the list of returning starters which includes forwards Chinyere Ibekwe (32 starts in 2006-07) and guard Tierra Henderson (31 starts in 2006-07). Pluimer ranked amongst the top 10 in the conference last season in six categories, including scoring with the ninth-best mark. Ibekwe ranked 11th in shooting percentage (.503) and offensive rebounds (2.78). Henderson led the team and ranked fourth in the conference in steals (2.09).

A group of four sophomores, including guards Erica Tukiainen, Allison Taka and Alexis Olivier, as well as center Moniquee Alexander, are also returning.

UCLA adds six freshmen in a class which was rated fourth-best in the nation by All-Star Girls Report and tied for eighth-best by HoopGurlz.com to the mix. The group includes forward Candice Brown of Bishop Amat HS from Riverside, CA; guard Doreena Campbell of Edison HS and Alexandria, VA; forward Nina Earl of Diamond Ranch HS and Pomona, CA; guard Darxia Morris from Pasadena, CA Muir HS; forward Christina Nzekwe from Seattle, WA Chief Sealth HS; and center Regina Rogers from Seattle, WA Chief Sealth HS.

Pre-Season Prognostications
The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish fifth in the conference in the annual pre-season poll. Stanford, with eight first-place votes, was the solid choice to finish first. The Cardinal (79 points) were followed by Arizona State (one first-place vote, 71), California (one first-place vote, 68), USC (56), UCLA (44), Oregon (34), Arizona (31), Oregon State (16), Washington State (10). The Pac-10 media picked UCLA to finish sixth, behind Stanford, Arizona State, California, USC and Washington. Trailing UCLA were Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State.

CSTV.com selected UCLA as one of its five sleeper teams 'nobody wants to see on their schedule', and women's basketball expert Debbie Antonelli also called UCLA the 'surprise team out of the Pac-10' on the Shootaround with Beth and Debbie podcast.

What's Returning?
56% of the total field goals made (525-943); 59% of the games started (95/160); 51% of the minutes played (3304/6422); 56% of the rebounds pulled down (635/1145); 40% of the three-point field goals made (52/131); 38% of the assists handed out (172/453); 62% of the steals made (151/244); 71% of the blocked shots made (64/90).

Name Game
Two Bruins had name changes during the off-season. Guard Erica Latimer is now going by Erica Tukiainen (her mother's last name). Assistant coach Maylana Martin was married in August and is now going by Maylana Douglas.

First To 100 Jerseys
Several Bruin teams will be wearing special jerseys or patches in 2007-08 to commemorate UCLA being the First to 100 NCAA Championships. The women's basketball team will don the new jerseys that have a different-colored 'C' in UCLA. The 'C' signifies the Roman numeral for 100.

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