UCLA Women's Basketball Hosts Rice In Home Opener

Nov. 16, 2007

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Nov. 18, 2007
OPPONENT: Rice University
GAME SITE: Pauley Pavilion
GAME TIME: 1:00 p.m.
TICKETS TO UCLA HOME GAMES: $12 adults/$10 youth (Reserved), $8 adults/$6 youth (GA), UCLA Central Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN)
AUDIO/VIDEO: uclabruins.com
TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Michael Sondheimer (color)
WEB: uclabruins.com

UCLA (1-0) will host Rice University (3-0, game at Cal State Northridge on Friday) on Sunday afternoon in the 2007-08 home opener in Pauley Pavilion at 1 p.m. UCLA began the 2007-08 regular season with a non-conference victory at Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, Nov. 14 by a score of 81-69. Senior forward Lindsey Pluimer led five Bruins in double digits with 16 points in the win.

Rice University went 19-14 last season and tied for fourth in Conference USA. The Owls advanced to the NWIT and lost in the first round to Illinois State.This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

Rice began this season with three-straight wins in the Winthrop adidas Classic. The Owls posted victories over Navy, North Texas and Winthrop. In the Owls' final game, senior center Valeriya Berezhynska matched a career-high with 31 points, added 10 rebounds and won Tournament MVP honors. She was subsequently named the Conference USA Player of the Week. Berezhynska is averaging a team-high 26.5 points per game, while Tiffany Loggins leads the Owls with 8.3 rebounds per game. Rice plays at Cal State Northridge on Dec. 16 before playing the Bruins.

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).

UCLA used a balanced attack, featuring five players in double digits, to outscore Cal State Northridge in the 2007-08 season opener by a 81-69 margin. Senior forward Lindsey Pluimer led the Bruins with 16 points and added nine rebounds. Three Bruin freshmen scored in double digits as Doreena Campbell totaled 14 points with seven steals, Nina Earl added 13 points, and Darxia Morris chipped in with 12 points. Sophomore guard Erica Tukiainen scored 10 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. The Bruins went on a 12-0 run to end the first half with a 14 point lead, 41-27, and held a double-digit lead for most of the second half.

UCLA jumped out to an 18-0 lead in the early going and went on to best Love and Basketball by a score of 84-67 on Nov. 7 in Pauley Pavilion. Sophomore guard Erica Tukiainen led four Bruins in double digits with 17 points.Senior forward Lindsey Pluimer scored 16 points and had eight rebounds, while freshman forward Nina Earl added 13 points and freshman guard Darxia Morris chipped in with 11.

Four players scored in double figures, and 10 Bruins scored in all as UCLA defeated Team Concept on Nov. 1, 94-82. Erica Tukiainen led all players with 19 points while shooting 5-6 from the three-point line. She also added seven rebounds. Lindsey Pluimer recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Also scoring in double-figures were freshmen Regina Rogers (11 points) and Nina Earl (10 points). Starters Moniquee Alexander (7 points, 9 rebounds), Darxia Morris (8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and Doreena Campbell (9 points, 3 assists, 0 turnovers) also had strong showings. Team Concept, which had three WNBA players on its roster, was led by former Bruin stars Noelle Quinn (13 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) and Nikki Blue (14 points, 5 assists).

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 among 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; Regina Rogers from Seattle, WA Chief Sealth HS.

The Bruins will play host to the past two NCAA championship teams when it welcomes 2005-06 title holder Maryland on Nov. 25 and 2006-07 champ Tennessee on Dec. 19 to Pauley Pavilion.

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, Washington. The Bruins could face four more opponents who played in the WNIT in 2007 - Rice, Nevada, San Diego, Oregon. Beginning on the first of December with a game against Idaho State, the Bruins could face 10 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 national rankings - No. 1 Tennessee, No. 3 Maryland and No. 5 Stanford.

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.

UCLA's lone senior, forward Lindsey Pluimer, will lead the 2007-08 Bruins. Pluimer, a two-time Academic All-District selection and a 2006-07 All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection, has started every game since her freshman season for a total of 93 career starts. In her career, she has averaged 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds and has improved her scoring average every season, jumping to an average of 15.5 points during her junior season. 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 tied for 19th in career scoring with 1,134 points and is 33 points away from tying Jackie Joyner for 18th place. Pluimer also has 546 career rebounds and needs 70 more to move into the Top 15. Fourteen more blocked shots will move her from eighth to seventh on the career list. Pluimer currently has 60.

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.

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).

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.

UCLA remains at home during Thanksgiving week. The Bruins host Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Tuesday, Nov. 20 and 2006 NCAA champion Maryland on Sunday, Nov. 25. The Maryland game will be broadcast nationally on FSN at 2 p.m.

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