Women's Basketball Hosts Pepperdine Tuesday, Nov. 18

Nov. 17, 2008

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DATE: Nov. 18, 2008
OPPONENT: Pepperdine
SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)
TIP-OFF: 7:05 p.m.
TICKETS: $12 adults/$10 youth (Reserved), $8 adults/$6 youth (GA), UCLA students free w/ ticket from CTO; UCLA Central Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN)
AUDIO/VIDEO: uclabruins.com
TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play); Michael Sondheimer, Tracy Murray (color)
WEB: uclabruins.com

Bruins Welcome Waves
The Bruins, now 1-0 on the season after a season-opening 78-62 win over Cal State Fullerton, take on the Pepperdine Waves (1-0) of the West Coast Conference on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion.

Pepperdine won last year's meeting with the Bruins, 91-79, on Nov. 28 in Malibu. Tierra Henderson tied for Bruin team-high scoring honors with 15 points in that contest. UCLA leads the series, which dates back to 1981, by a 13-3 count. The teams have split the last four meetings.

Pepperdine opened up its season with a 79-72 win over Cal Poly on Nov. 14. Miranda Ayim led the team with 14 points. The Waves went 10-18 a year ago and finished eighth in conference play. Former Bruin All-American Maylana Martin Douglas (1997-2000) is an assistant coach with Pepperdine.

Shot Of A Lifetime
At every home game, one lucky fan will have an opportunity to win an escalating prize of at least $100,000 at every UCLA women's basketball home game in the halftime contest 'Shot of a Lifetime'.

Fans can sign up to participate prior to tipoff inside Gate 16 of Pauley Pavilion, and one contestant will be chosen at random. That lucky fan will have 25 seconds to make (in order) a shot from behind the left elbow, a shot from behind the right elbow, a three-pointer from the top of the key, and a half-court shot. The grand prize for making these four shots in the time limit is at least $100,000. For every game that does not have a winner, the prize value will increase by $10,000. If no one has won the grand prize by the final home game of the season, that game's participant will be shooting for a quarter of a million dollars. The prize is currently at $110,000.

Game One: Fullerton Recap
UCLA used a 54-21 rebounding advantage to pull away from Cal State Fullerton and earn a 78-62 win in the season-opener on Nov. 16. UCLA led 35-34 at the half but was able to get some separation by scoring the first seven points of the second half. The Titans never got closer than six points the rest of the way. UCLA controlled the boards by a 30-10 margin the second half. Moniquee Alexander led the way for UCLA with a career-high 12 points, and Chinyere Ibekwe added a career-best 14 rebounds. Tierra Henderson chipped in 10 points and a career-high tying eight boards. All 11 Bruins who played in the contest scored in the win.

Bruins Bang Boards
In its first three games of the 2008-09 campaign (two exhibitions, one regular season game), the Bruins have been crashing the boards with authority, averaging 51.7 rebounds per game. UCLA had 54 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton, outrebounding its opponent by a margin of 33 boards. UCLA had 25 offensive rebounds, four more than Fullerton's total rebound count of 21. Senior Chinyere Ibekwe led the team with a career-best 14 rebounds and currently leads the conference in rebounding, ahead of her younger sister Ify from Arizona, who ranks second with an average of 13.5 rpg.

Coach Nikki Caldwell
On April 17, 2008, UCLA announced the hiring of Nikki Caldwell as head women's basketball coach. Caldwell joined the Bruins after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee for the past six seasons, including the last two National Championship campaigns in 2007 and 2008. In her 14 seasons as a collegiate player (1991-1994 at Tennessee) and as an assistant coach (Tennessee 1999, Virginia 2000-02, Tennessee 2003-08), Caldwell's teams have posted an amazing 404-76 record and appeared in the NCAA Tournament each season, while winning three national championships.

2008-09 Outlook
The focus of the UCLA team this year is a theme of 'earned, never given.' The Bruins will feature an up-tempo style of play based on defense and control of the boards.

'The defense will seek to delay and disrupt,' says Head Coach Nikki Caldwell. 'We will change our defenses up and extend it at times. We want to control the boards to control the tempo of the game. On offense, we will focus on player movement, ball movement and spacing. Our players will move with a purpose and take care of the ball.'

Two Bruin seniors return to the fold and will be keys to helping trigger the defensive pressure and maxing out the energy on the boards, which is stressed by coach Caldwell. Guard Tierra Henderson, a first-team All-Pac-10 Defensive team selection, led the team and ranked third in the conference in steals per game (2.0). Center/forward Chinyere Ibekwe saw action in 28 games last season with three starts and will be asked to commit to being a 'defensive stopper in the post and an animal on the boards.'

Three juniors are also back. Erica Tukiainen is a versatile wing player who started in 15 of the final 16 contests last year. She can shoot the three and handle multiple positions on the court. Center Moniquee Alexander started 15 games a year ago and will be counted on to become a presence on the low block and to anchor the paint. Guard Allison Taka is one of the team's most capable outside shooters.

Five members of one of UCLA's most productive freshman classes return after posting combined averages of 29.4 points and 15 rebounds while starting a total of 59 games. Three returning players (guard Doreena Campbell, first team; forward Nina Earl and guard Darxia Morris, honorable mention) were selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Campbell started in 30 games, ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in assists (3.37) and was named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 team. Earl appeared in all 31 games with 15 starts. She was tied for second on the team with Campbell in scoring at 8.7 points per game. Morris ranked ninth in the conference in steals (1.64) and averaged 7.5 points per game. She appeared in 28 games and started in 12 contests. Forward/center Christina Nzekwe played double-figure minutes in 25 of her 31 games last season while averaging 3.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. Forward Candice Brown saw action in 26 games with two starts and ranked fourth on the team in blocked shots (10).

A couple of highly regarded freshmen, guard Rebekah Gardner (Ayala HS) and guard/forward Atonye Nyingifa (Redondo Union HS), also join the mix. Both players were named their division's CIF Southern Section Player of the Year in 2008.

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 six first-place votes, was a slight favorite to finish first. The Cardinal (78 points) were followed by Cal (four first-place votes, 76), Arizona State (65), USC (55), UCLA (48), Oregon (40), Washington (27), Oregon State (25), Washington State (20), and Arizona (16).

The Pac-10 media seconded that vote by also selecting the Bruins for a fifth-place finish.

Looking Ahead
After welcoming Pepperdine on Nov. 18, UCLA hits the road for the first time with games at Maryland (Nov. 23) and at Cal Poly (Nov. 26). The Bruins then begin a four-game homestand starting on Nov. 30 against Cal State Northridge and including CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 3), Nevada (Dec. 7) and San Diego (Dec. 14). UCLA ends the month of December with road games at Rice (Dec. 17) and at Texas Tech (Dec. 29) sandwiched around a nationally televised home date with Kansas (Dec. 21).

Incoming Freshmen
UCLA welcomes Atonye Nyingifa of Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, CA and Rebekah Gardner of Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA to Westwood for the 2008-09 season. The signing of Nyingifa and Gardner last fall gave UCLA the No. 12 overall recruiting class by HoopGurlz.com.

Making the Grade
Four returning members of the Bruin squad made the UCLA Athletic Director's honor roll (3.0 of better with at least 12 graded units) during the 2007-08 academic year. Allison Taka earned a GPA of 3.5 or above during all three quarters. Erica Tukiainen made the Athletic Director's honor roll for both the 2008 Winter and Spring quarters. Doreena Campbell and Christina Nzekwe were honor roll students for the the Fall 2007 quarter.

Challenging Schedule
The Bruins will face a schedule that features seven teams which advanced to post-season play last season. Five appeared in the NCAA Tournament (Maryland, San Diego, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal), and two played in the Women's NIT (Texas Tech, Kansas).

Free Tickets, Full Ride
UCLA students will have an opportunity to win a full $21,000 UCLA scholarship in a promotion called 'Free Tickets, Full Ride'. By attending any of the first 10 regular season women's basketball home games, current UCLA students will accumulate points towards a chance at the scholarship prize. For every game they attend, students will receive 10 points. Attending the Dec. 21 game vs. Kansas and the Jan. 11 game vs. USC will double their cumulative point total. At halftime of the USC game, one student will be randomly drawn as the winner. The more games you attend, the more chances you have to win.

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