Women's Basketball Kicks Off 2004-05 Season With Nov. 7 Exhibition Game

Nov. 2, 2004

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Bruins Face Love and Basketball In First Exhibition -- The Bruins will play for the first time in 2004-05 on Saturday, Nov. 7 in a 2:00 pm exhibition matchup in Pauley Pavilion against Love and Basketball, a group of former local collegiate players.

Former Bruins Returning To Pauley -- Amongst the Love and Basketball players are former UCLA standouts Michelle Greco (1999-03), Natalie Nakase (2000-03), Gennifer Arranaga (2001-04), Marie Philman (1997-2000) and Sandra VanEmbricqs (1987-90).

Looking Ahead -- UCLA will host the West Coast All-Stars on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 1:00 pm in Pauley Pavilion for its final exhibition tune-up.

The Bruins could open up the regular season facing six straight teams which advanced to post-season play a year ago (TCU, Miami, Texas and Purdue were in the NCAA tournament; Clemson and Pepperdine played in the WNIT).

The Bruins open the regular season on Nov. 19 against TCU in the first round of the Miami, FL Jam at 2:00 p.m. Pacific. Miami and Gardner-Webb play in the other first round game. The Bruins will play at either 9:00 a.m. (consolation) or 11:00 a.m. (championship) Pacific on Sunday, Nov. 21 in the second round of the Jam. UCLA returns home to Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 24 to play against Clemson.

2004-05 Outlook -- Coach Kathy Olivier welcomes back 11 letterwinners, including three starters and adds three talented newcomers. The Bruin 'triple threat' returning starters includes leading scorer and rebounder Noelle Quinn, assist leader and No. 2 scorer Nikki Blue, along with Pac-10 steals leader and No. 3 scorer Lisa Willis. Seven of the 11 letterwinners saw action in at least 18 games last season, including five players with starting experience from a year ago.

The team rebounded from a 4-6 Pac-10 start last season to capture seven of the last eight conference games and finish in a tie for third place. That third place finish marked the fifth time in the last seven seasons that the Bruins have wound up among the top four teams in the conference. A win over Arizona State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament helped to secure an NCAA bid.

Junior guard Blue and sophomore guard Quinn were each named to the first-team All-Pac-10 team. Junior guard Willis was selected to the honorable mention all-conference team after leading the league in steals and three-point shots. Quinn was also selected as the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, the fourth Bruin to be so honored.

Senior center Sissy Pickett offers some veteran spark in the middle. Junior Julia Pitts, who started nine games last season and averaged 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, is still working her way back to full health from a second knee surgery in two years and is expected to redshirt. Juniors Emma Tautolo and Ortal Oren will look to expand their roles at forward and guard, respectively. Junior volleyball standout Brittany Ringel is expected to be back in action on the hardwood in December following volleyball season.

Sophomores Amanda Livingston, Consuelo Lezcano and Shaina Zaidi each return with a year of experience under their belts. Livingston saw action in all 30 games last season and had one start while averaging 4.0 points and 2.2 rebounds. Lezcano saw action in eight games and showed outstanding promise. Zaidi was in action for nine games last season and provides another solid ballhandling option.

Coach Olivier welcomes two outstanding newcomers to the team. All-Everything forward Lindsey Pluimer (San Clemente HS) was regarded by several publications as one of the top recruits in the nation. She averaged 24.6 points per game as a senior and was named to McDonald's and Parade All-America teams. She was selected CIF Southern Section II-A Player of the Year the past three seasons. Guard Lauren Pedersen (Brea Olinda HS) averaged 14.7 points as a prep senior. She led her team to the CIF Southern Section II-A championship and the Division II Southern California regional semifinals. Pedersen was selected CIF Southern Section II-A Player of the Year the past three seasons.

Point guard Stephanetta Bingley (El Camino HS in Oceanside, CA) will walk on to the team and provide additional depth at the point guard position.

Bruins in the Pre-Season Polls -- Street and Smith's Magazine ranks the Bruins No. 25 in its pre-season poll and lists Noelle Quinn as a high honorable mention selection and Nikki Blue as an honorable mention All-American pick. The Bruins were picked No. 22 by the Lindy's College Basketball Magazine.

Blue, Quinn Named to Pre-Season All-Conference Team by Media -- Nikki Blue and Noelle Quinn were selected by the media to the Pre-Season All-Conference team, announced at the annual Pac-10 media day in San Jose. Blue and Quinn were joined by Stanford's Kelley Suminski and Arizona's Shawntinice Polk and Dee-Dee Wheeler.

Coaches and Media Pick Bruins To Finish Third In Pac-10 -- The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish third in the conference, with one first-place vote, in the annual pre-season poll. Stanford, with eight first-place votes, was the solid choice to finish first. The Cardinal were followed by Arizona (one first-place votes), UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, USC, California, Oregon State and Washington State.

The Pac-10 media also selected the Bruins to finish third (122 points). Stanford, with eight first-place votes and Arizona, with seven first-place votes, were picked to repeat as co-champions with 140 points each. Arizona State was fourth (100), followed by Washington (83), Oregon (78), USC (61), Oregon State (45), California (34) and Washington State (22)

UCLA In Season Openers -- UCLA is 21-9 all-time in season openers. The Bruins won last year's opener against UNLV, 61-51, in Pauley Pavilion. This year's opener with TCU (an NCAA team) marks the seventh consecutive year UCLA has faced a post-season tournament team in its season opener. In 2002, the Bruins lost at Hawaii; 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 to Open Season In Florida Vs. TCU -- UCLA will meet Texas Christian University in the opening round of the Miami, Fl Jam. TCU went 25-7 last season and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Horned Frogs finished second in Conference USA in 2004. Sandora Irvin, a 6-3 senior forward, is one of the top returning players in the nation. She averaged 16.8 points, 12.2 rebounds (third in the nation) and 3.9 blocked shots (third in the nation) per game last season. Miami, another NCAA team last season, and Gardner-Webb will meet in the other first-round matchup in the Jam.

Home-Opener -- UCLA will host Clemson on November 24 in the home opener. The Bruins then welcome pre-season top-five ranked Texas to Pauley Pavilion on November 28.

San Jose to Host Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament -- The 2004-05 season will conclude with the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament to be played once again this season at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA on March 4-7. All conference schools will participate in the tournament, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the 2005 NCAA tournament. The team that finishes the regular season atop the Pac-10 standings, based on the results of the double round robin play, is the conference champion.

Challenging Schedule Ahead For Bruins -- Once again, UCLA's schedule will be a challenging one, as the Bruins could play the first six games of the regular season against teams which advanced to post-season play last season (TCU, Miami, Texas and Purdue - NCAA and Clemson and Pepperdine - WNIT). TCU ranked fourth in the nation in scoring offense (78.1) and eighth in field goal percentage defense (35.5%). Miami, FL ranked 16th in the nation in scoring offense at 73.8 points per game. Ohio State led the nation in field goal percentage (50.9). Purdue ranked second in the NCAA in three-point shooting percentage (39.1). In addition, the Bruins will face the usual Pac-10 Conference foes.

2003-04 Bruin Highlights
•Noelle Quinn was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year
•Nikki Blue was selected first-team All-Pac-10 for the second straight season
•Lisa Willis led the Pac-10 in steals and made three-points shots
•The Bruin triple threat of Willis, Blue and Quinn combined to average 45.4 points, 18.7 rebounds, 8.4 steals and 10.2 assists in '03-04
•Willis' 3.3 steals / g average ranked 11th in the nation a year ago
• Quinn recorded the fourth triple -double in school history at California with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists
•The team set a school record with 150 made three-point shots in 2004
•Nikki Blue's 33 points in the NCAA tournament loss at Minnesota set a school record for most points in a NCAA game
•The Bruin team ranked seventh in the nation in steals (12.3) in 2004

Quoting the Coach -- 'I can't wait for the start of the season,' says coach Olivier. 'The excitement from our finish last season has not gone away. We jelled as a team about midway through the season and came on strong in the final 10 games to secure an NCAA bid. It was fun to watch the team grow more comfortable with their roles and start to enjoy consistent success. Now, we feel that there is an opportunity to build on it and have a really special season in 2004-05.'

'We will miss the experience of Gennifer Arranaga, Jamila Veasley and Whitney Jones, but we do add two outstanding recruits who I think will fit in well. '

'Once again, we are playing a high-quality pre-season schedule which includes a number of games with teams which went on to the post-season. There is no better way to prepare for the challenge of competing in the Pac-10. I think the league will be even deeper than it was a year ago. The conference tournament will once again be one of the nation's most exciting events.'

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