Women's Basketball Visits USC Saturday For Rivalry Game

Jan. 15, 2008

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Gameday Central
GAME 18: Sat. Jan. 19
OPPONENT: USC (10-7, 3-3)
GAME TIME: 12:00 pm
GAME SITE: Galen Center (10,258)
AUDIO: uclabruins.com
UCLA RADIO TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Jamila Veasley (color)

UCLA Battles USC Saturday At Galen Center
UCLA (9-8, 4-2 in the Pac-10) will face cross-town rival USC (10-7, 3-3) on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Galen Center at 12 pm. The Bruins enter the contest having won four of their last five games, while USC has lost three of its last five. Last weekend, both teams played at the Washington schools, with UCLA posting a sweep and USC splitting after a loss to Washington on Sunday.

Lexus Gauntlet Points At Stake
The winner of Saturday's UCLA-USC game will earn five points in the battle of the Lexus Gauntlet. The Lexus Gauntlet is a year-long all-sport competition between UCLA and USC. UCLA won last year's Lexus Gauntlet with a series-high 72.5 points to 37.5 for the Trojans. USC entered the week leading this season's battle, 22.5-12.5.

Bruin Bytes
UCLA has limited its last seven opponents to an average of just 59.3 points (415) per game in regulation in those seven contests (UC Riverside - 60, Arizona State - 62, Arizona - 59, Stanford - 56, California - 65, Washington - 57, WSU - 56). The last time a UCLA team had such a defensive stretch came in the 1974-75 season, when the Bruins limited its first 21 opponents to 63 points or less.

The only two losses in the last seven games have come by a total of six points to a pair of ranked teams (No. 9 Cal, No. 25 Arizona St.) which sit atop the Pac-10 standings with the only unbeaten records in the league after three weeks of play.

In Conference games, the Bruins are holding opponents to a Pac-10 low 33.1% shooting from the field. UCLA also leads the Pac-10 in rebounding offense (44.8), steals (10.29), offensive rebounds (15.41) and defensive rebounds (29.35).

Two Bruin players are averaging in double-figures, led by senior Lindsey Pluimer (14.1 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game). Freshman Nina Earl also averages in double digits with an 10.4 mark. Three other members of UCLA's freshman class are just shy of double digit averages - Darxia Morris, 9.9; Doreena Campbell, 9.0 ppg; and Regina Rogers, 7.8 ppg. UCLA averages 71.6 points per game to rank second in the Pac-10.

Since Dec. 8, the Bruins have faced seven NCAA Tournament teams (BYU, defending NCAA champion Tennessee, UC Riverside, Arizona State, Stanford, California and Washington) and one NIT participant (San Diego).

About USC
USC leads the series with the Bruins by a 39-27 count (dating back to the 1975-76 season, the first year UCLA awarded scholarships). Last season, USC scored a season sweep. The Trojans' 62-55 win in the last meeting, on Feb. 10, 2007, snapped a stretch of six straight contests which had been decided by four points or less. UCLA's last win in the series came on Dec. 28, 2004 in a 62-61 squeaker at Pauley Pavilion.

Bruins Win 15th-Straight Against WSU
UCLA used 66% shooting to take a 56-23 halftime advantage and went on to post a 76-56 win at Washington State. Nina Earl led four Bruins in double figures with 15 points. Lindsey Pluimer scored 15 and Erica Tukiainen added a career-high tying 12. Doreena Campbell totaled 11.

UCLA Escapes Seattle With 59-57 Win
UCLA withstood a late rally by the host Huskies and came away with a 59-57 road win on Thursday night. After leading at intermission, 29-24, the Bruins jumped out to a 13-point lead (45-32) in the second half but then went cold, going scoreless for over five and a half minutes. Freshman Christina Nzekwe broke the drought with a free throw at the 7:04 mark, stopping a 6-0 UW run that cut the lead to four. With the Bruins up by one with nine seconds to play, Washington took the ball up the court for the final possession, and Andrea Plouffe's three-pointer missed just before the buzzer sounded. Lindsey Pluimer led a balanced Bruin attack with 16 points.

Seattle's Best
Bruin freshmen and Seattle natives Regina Rogers and Christina Nzekwe played their first collegiate games in their hometown last Thursday. Both were key figures in the Bruins' 59-57 win over Washington. Nzekwe scored a season-high tying eight points, including six in a pivotal stretch in the second half, and added seven rebounds and a career-high four steals. Rogers added six points with three rebounds.

Rogers and Nzekwe were teammates at Chief Sealth HS in Seattle and won two State championships. Both have played in every game for the Bruins this season, with Rogers making eight starts in 16 games. Rogers now averages 7.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, while Nzkewe averages 3.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Both average over 13 minutes per game (Rogers - 17.0, Nzekwe - 13.5).

Morris Slowed By Knee Sprain
UCLA freshman Darxia Morris sat out both games at the Washington schools after spraining her right knee in the second half of the Cal game on Jan 6. Doctors will re-examine her knee during the week and update her status. She is currently listed as questionable for the game on Saturday at USC.

Morris, a freshman guard from Pasadena, CA (Muir HS), was coming off a weekend in which she scored 20 points in an upset win over No. 2 Stanford and added 14 points, including 12 in the second half, against No. 10 Cal. She is averaging 9.9 points (third on the team), 2.47 steals (second in the Pac-10 Conference) and 3.0 assists (10th in the Pac-10) per game. She had started in the previous six games and in 12 games overall this season.

Fresh Faces
The Bruin freshmen, ranked as the No. 4 recruiting class by HoopGurlz.com, have been as good as advertised, playing pivotal roles on the team. Three of the six freshmen have played in all 17 games, while a fourth has seen action in 16 games. Doreena Campbell has made 16 starts, Darxia Morris 12, Regina Rogers eight, and Nina Earl seven. Campbell leads the Bruins in assists (56) and minutes per game (30.8) and leads the Pac-10 in assist/turnover ratio (1.70). Morris owns the team lead in steals with 37 and entered the week ranked second in the conference with a 2.47 steals average. Rogers ranks second on the team in rebounding (4.9 average), and Candice Brown leads the team with a .579 (11-19) field goal percentage. Five freshmen have been on the court at the same time for the Bruins in several games this season.

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 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 nine different starting lineups in the 17 games this year and have used the same lineup in three consecutive games just once. UCLA has started three freshmen in most games this season.

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 109 career starts. At Washington last week, she became only the fifth Bruin to total at least 1,300 points, 650 rebounds and 75 blocked shots for a career, joining Ann Meyers, Necie Thompson, Natalie Williams and Maylana Martin. She is also one of just 13 Bruins to have scored at least 1,000 points and pulled down at least 600 rebounds.

Pluimer currently ranks 14th on UCLA's career scoring list with 1,359 points and is 13th in rebounds with 659 and seventh in blocked shots with 77. She needs just five more points to move into a tie for 13th with Anne Dean on the career scoring chart.

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 10.4 points per game average. Earl has scored in double figures nine times on the year and set career-highs in both scoring and rebounding when she recorded her first career double-double at Arizona (23 points, 10 rebounds). Earl has connected on 46.8% of her shots from the field and is currently third on the team in three-point field goal percentage at 35.7% (5-14).

Campbell Tops Pac-10 In Assist/Turnover Ratio
Guard Doreena Campbell has played more like a veteran than a freshman, averaging 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and just 2.1 turnovers per game in 16 starts. She entered the week ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 in assist/turnover ratio (1.7). Campbell is first on the team in assists (56) and minutes per game (30.8). She recorded seven steals in the season opener at Cal State Northridge and had a career-high of eight assists at Arizona State. Campbell missed her only game of the season at Arizona while nursing a sprained ankle. She registered a career-high seven rebounds v. Cal in a career-best 38 minutes of action and matched her minutes played best at Washington while recording a new career-high with eight rebounds.

Mo Better
Sophomore center Moniquee Alexander has shown big improvements lately, earning starts in the last nine games, She had five rebounds against both No. 2 Stanford and No. 10 California and led the team with nine rebounds, including four offensive boards, at Washington. In her last seven games, she is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game. Against No. 1 Tennessee, Alexander scored a career-high 11 points on 5-5 shooting from the field. She equaled that point total against UC Riverside, scoring 11 points, and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds. Alexander had five rebounds and zero turnovers in the game at Arizona State and shot 4-6 from the field for eight points with four boards in the win at Arizona. She averages 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and has played in all 17 games with 10 overall starts.

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 was ferocious on the defensive boards at Arizona State, recording 13, along with three blocked shots. She added five more boards at Arizona. Rogers is second on the team in rebounds per game (4.9 average) and blocks (12). Her rebounding average is 18th in the conference.

Pride Of Pasadena
Former teammates at Pasadena's John Muir HS, Tierra Henderson and Darxia Morris have paired up once again in UCLA's backcourt. Henderson, a junior, and Morris, a freshman, have started together in five games. They rank 1-2 on the team in steals, with Morris totaling 37 and Henderson 34, which rank them second and tied for fifth, respectively, in the Pac-10 rankings. Morris is second on the team in assists with 45 while averaging 9.9 points per game. Henderson has long been known as the Bruins' defensive sparkplug, but she has also upped her offensive game this year, averaging 6.6 points and leading the team in scoring with a career-high 15 at Pepperdine. At Arizona, Henderson and Morris were the defensive duo, combining for 13 of UCLA's 17 steals on the day (Henderson with a career-high tying seven and Morris with a career-high six).

Making The Grade
Five members of the Bruin squad made the Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better with at least 12 graded units) in the Fall Quarter - senior Lindsey Pluimer, sophomores Allison Taka and Alexis Olivier, and freshmen Doreena Campbell and Christina Nzekwe. Pluimer and Taka earned GPAs of 3.5 or above.

Challenging '07-08 Schedule
The Bruins have already played host to the past two NCAA championship teams this season when it welcomed 2005-06 title holder Maryland on Nov. 25 and 2006-07 champ Tennessee on Dec. 19 to Pauley Pavilion. UCLA has now hosted teams ranked No. 1 (Tennessee), No. 2 (Stanford) and No. 3 (Maryland) at the time of the game this season.

In all, the Bruins have battled 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. The Bruins just finished an 11-game stretch that saw them matching up with nine teams that advanced to post-season play in the 2006-07 season.

Four of UCLA's opponents are currently ranked in the Top 10 in the AP rankings - No. 2 Tennessee, No. 4 Maryland, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 California.

Bruins Vs. The Ranks
The Bruins' last victory against a nationally ranked opponent came on Jan. 4, 2008 against No. 2-ranked Stanford (69-56). It marked the first time the Bruin program has ever defeated a team ranked higher than fourth in the Associated Press poll. UCLA had defeated a team ranked as high as fourth on multiple occasions, the last time came on Nov. 28, 2004 in a 63-60 win over #4 Texas.

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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