UCLA Women's Basketball Opens Season In Pauley Against UNLV Nov. 23

Nov. 20, 2003

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Bruins to Open At Home vs. UNLV - UCLA will meet UNLV in the season opener in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. UCLA leads the series with the Running Rebels by a 6-0 count. The Bruins captured last season's meeting in Las Vegas, 72-64. Michelle Greco led UCLA with 26 points in that matchup. UNLV outrebounded the Bruins 43-30 in the game, but the Bruins limited UNLV to 39% shooting. Whitney Jones (10) and Gennifer Arranaga (12) were the other Bruins in double-figure points in last year's game.

Coach Kathy Olivier has started a couple of different lineups in the first two exhibition games. Nikki Blue, Lisa Willis, Jamila Veasley and Noelle Quinn have started both contests. Julia Pitts and Emma Tautolo alternated at the fifth spot, with Pitts starting against Love and Basketball and Tautolo starting against West Coast All-Stars.

UCLA In Season Openers - UCLA is 20-9 all-time in season openers. The Bruins lost last year's opener at Hawaii, 70-66. The Bruins' game vs. UNLV (17-12, 8-6 T-3rd in Mountain West Conf. and a NWIT team a year ago) marks the sixth consecutive year UCLA has faced a post-season tournament team in its season opener. In 2001, the Bruins defeated Liberty at the Michigan State tournament; in 2000, the Bruins lost to No. 5 Duke in Albuquerque, NM; in 1999, the Bruins defeated No. 8 North Carolina 69-65 in Lubbock, TX; and in 1998, UCLA lost at No. 17 Notre Dame, 99-82.

Bruins Win Both Exhibition Contests - Freshman Noelle Quinn, who finished with a team-best 22 points, hit a 17-foot jump shot as the buzzer sounded to hand the Bruins a 74-72 decision over Love and Basketball in the exhibition opener on Nov. 8. Quinn's basket capped an 8-0 Bruin run to close out the game. The Bruins, who trailed by as many as 17 points in the contest, also had double figure scoring from sophomores Nikki Blue (19) and Julia Pitts (12).

Quinn led the Bruins with 25 points in a 93-73 win over the West Coast All-Stars on Nov. 17. UCLA shot 52% from the field in the game and outrebounded the All-Stars, 52-38. Sophomore Nikki Blue added 11 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Amanda Livingston came off the bench to score 14.

2003-04 Outlook - Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back 10 letterwinners, including five of the top six scorers, and adds four talented newcomers for the 2003-04 season. Three returning starters are included among the returning players, headlined by returning Pac-10 all-conference performer, Nikki Blue.

The team totaled 18 wins last season, two more than the combined total of the previous two seasons. The total of 12 conference wins was a total which has been surpassed by only two other Bruin teams in history. In addition, the Bruins were one of only two conference teams to post a winning record in league road games last season.

Sophomore guard Nikki Blue is the leading returning scorer (16.6) and rebounder (5.5). Senior forward Jamila Veasley, a starter in 47 career games and all 29 last season, is also back. Senior forward Whitney Jones, a three-year starter who has 60 career starts, returns after the conclusion of the soccer season.

Senior guard Gennifer Arranaga and junior center Sissy Pickett offer some veteran spark. Sophomore Julia Pitts, who started the first eight games of the season and averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, has rehabbed from knee surgery and is also back. Sophomores Lisa Willis, Emma Tautolo and Ortal Oren will look to expand their roles. Sophomore volleyball standout Brittany Ringel returns to action on the hardwood after a year off.

Coach Olivier welcomes four outstanding newcomers to the team. All-Everything guard/forward Noelle Quinn (Bishop Montgomery HS) was regarded by several publications as one of the top recruits in the nation. She averaged 22.9 points per game and helped her team win three CIF Division III championships and four CIF state championships. Forward Amanda Livingston (Troy HS) led her team to a pair of CIF Southern Section Division II-AA titles and averaged 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior. Center Consuelo Lezcano (Marathon HS) is a 6-4 plus in the middle. Guard Shaina Zaidi guided her Marlborough HS team to last year's Division IV-AA CIF Southern Section championship.

Blue Named to Pre-Season All-Conference Team by Media - Nikki Blue was selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team announced at the annual Pac-10 media day in San Jose on Oct. 29. Blue was joined by Stanford's Nicole Powell, USC's Ebony Hoffman, Washington's Giuliana Mendiola and Arizona's Shawntinice Polk.

Bruins Picked To Finish Sixth/Seventh In Pac-10 - The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish sixth in the conference. Stanford, with eight first-place votes, was the solid choice to finish first. The Cardinal were followed by Arizona (two first-place votes), Washington, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Oregon State, California and Washington State.

The Pac-10 media also tabbed Stanford for the top spot. Next was Arizona, Washington and Arizona State. USC was picked to finish fifth followed by Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, California and Washington State.

Looking Ahead - UCLA will host Illinois on Sunday, Nov. 30 at 1 pm in a game to be televised on Fox Sports Net. The Bruins are also scheduled to appear on Fox Sports Net this season against Washington (Jan. 11) and Arizona (Jan. 17). The conference will also select 'wild card' Fox Sports Net games to be televised on Feb. 14 and 21.

Multi-Sport Stars Expected to Join Team In December - Two-sport athlete Whitney Jones is a starting midfielder for the highly-ranked UCLA women's soccer team. The soccer playoffs run through December 7 this season, and Jones will join the team at the conclusion of the season. Brittany Ringel is a starting outside hitter for the nationally-ranked volleyball team. The volleyball playoffs end December 20.

Challenging Schedule Ahead For Bruins - The Bruins could play 17 games against teams which advanced to the post-season last season. Pre-season ranked (USA Today) opponents include Arizona (22), Ohio St. (15), Purdue (9), Stanford (7) and Texas (3).

The 2002-03 Bruin Highlights -
*Michelle Greco won the Pac-10 scoring title (18.9) for the second time in her career
*Nikki Blue became just the second Bruin freshman to earn first-team all-conference honors (only seven freshmen in conference history have been selected to the first team
*The team set a school record for free throw shooting percentage with a mark of .716
* Greco also led the conference in steals (2.79 per game)
*Bruins led Pac-10 in steals (13.21) and turnover margin (+6.86)
* The Bruins set a school record with 147 made three-points shots
* The Bruin opponent scoring average of 67.1 was the fourth-lowest ever given up by a Bruin team
*Nikki Blue's 35 points set a school record for most points scored by a UCLA freshman
* Bruins improved their scoring average from 59.0 to 73.0 last season

Player Bio Updates

#00 Ortal Oren - Saw action in 11 games last season ... Had a high of nine points against both Washington State and CSUN ... Member of the Israeli Junior National team ... Team won the Israeli School Championships in her senior year.

#3 Shaina Zaidi - Point guard who helped her team win the CIF Division IV-AA Southern Section championship and advance to the CIF State Regional Division IV finals as a senior ... Averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists as a senior ... Adidas Super 60 selection after her junior and senior seasons.

#10 Whitney Jones - Starting midfielder on the soccer team who is expected to join the team in December ... Three-year basketball starter with 60 career starts ... Ranked 10th on the all-time UCLA free throw list (.736) and fifth in made three-point shots in her career ... Had her fourth career double-double last season with 24 points and 10 rebounds versus Oregon.

#11 Julia Pitts - Starter in the first eight games of last season ... Averaged 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shot .674 from the field ... Suffered a left knee injury in the first half of the Baylor game ... Had surgery last Dec. 30.

#13 Gennifer Arranaga - Appeared in all 29 games last season and has seen action in the last 60 games in a row ... Sparked the Bruins to key wins over Arizona and USC ... Named all-tournament at the Las Vegas Shootout last season.

#21 Brittany Ringel - Starter at outside hitter on the volleyball team ... Will join the basketball squad in December following the NCAA volleyball tournament ... Sat out last year after playing on the basketball team during her true freshman year of 2001-02.

#22 Consuelo Lezcano - Exciting freshman who was a volleyball and basketball star at Marathon, FL High School ... Scored over 2,100 points in her prep career ... Averaged 22 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks per game as a senior.

#31 Amanda Livingston - Led her team to the State championship as a senior in the school's first ever trip to the title game ... Averaged 17.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a senior.

#32 Nikki Blue - Starter in all 29 games last season ... Just the second Bruin ever to be named first-team All-Pac-10 as a freshman ... Also selected to the Pac-10's All-Freshman team and to the Pac-10 All-Tournament team ... Ranked first on the team in rebounds and assists and was second in scoring ... Finished fifth in the Pac-10 in scoring, sixth in assists, second in steals and eighth in assist/turnover ratio ... Set a UCLA freshman scoring record with 35 points against Washington ... Named to the pre-season All-Pac-10 team at the 2003-04 conference media day.

#35 Jamila Veasley - Starter in all 29 games last season and 47 games overall in her career ... Ranked seventh in the conference in blocked shots (0.69) a year ago ... Scored a career-high 12 points in the win last season at Oregon.

#40 Lisa Willis - Appeared in all 29 games and excelled on the perimeter with 46 made three-pointers (second on UCLA freshman list) and on defense with 55 steals ... Seventh in the Pac-10 in three-point shots made (1.59/g) ... Had 11 double figure scoring games and made at least one three-point shot in 21 games as a freshman.

#44 Emma Tautolo - Appeared in 26 games last season ... Averaged 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds ... Had bests of nine points and five rebounds versus Hawaii.

#45 Noelle Quinn - All-Everything freshman who helped lead her team to three CIF Division III championships, four California Regional Division III crowns and four CIF state championships ... Parade Magazine and McDonald's All-American ... Averaged 22.9 points and 10.1 rebounds as a senior.

# 54 Sissy Pickett - Saw action in 12 games last season ... Averaged 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds ... Had six points in the win over St. Mary's ... Career 77% free throw shooter.

Head Coach Kathy Olivier - Now entering her 11th season (owns a 148-139 overall record) as UCLA head coach, Kathy Olivier has steadily built the program to reflect her own positive, upbeat and outgoing personality.

In 2003, the team posted 12 wins in conference play, a total surpassed by only two other previous UCLA teams. Her team was one of only two Pac-10 squads to own a winning record on the road. The team improved its scoring average from 59.0 in the 2001-02 season to 73.0 points per game. Olivier has coached the only two Bruins players to be named first-team All-Pac-10 as freshmen (Nikki Blue and Maylana Martin).

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