UCLA Returns Home To Meet Hawai'i

Nov. 18, 2009

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GAME #3 DATE: Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009
OPPONENT: Hawai'i (1-0)
SITE: Pauley Pavilion
TIP-OFF: 7:05 pm
TICKETS: $10 adults/$8 youth (Reserved), $7 adults/$5 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

GAME #4 DATE: Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009
OPPONENT: Utah (1-1)
SITE: Viejas Arena
TIP-OFF: 8:30 pm (30 min. after 1st game)
TV: the mtn.
TALENT: Tracy Warren, Andrea Lloyd
AUDIO: uclabruins.com
TALENT: Dave Marcus

Bruins Meet Hawaii Thursday, Face Utah in San Diego Saturday
The Bruins (1-1) will host Hawaii (1-0, won at UC Riverside, 63-58, on Tues.) on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. in the first home game of the season.UCLA will then square off against the University of Utah (1-1, beat Minnesota, 60-59, on Tues. in SLC) on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. (the game will start 30 min. after the conclusion of the first game) in the second game of a women's basketball doubleheader hosted by San Diego State University. Arizona meets San Diego State in the opening game at 6:30 p.m.

About The Opponents
Hawaii was 8-23 overall last season and finished seventh in the Western Athletic Conference. UCLA last met the Rainbow Wahines in November of 2002 and dropped a 70-66 decision in Honolulu.

The Bruins lead the series with UH by a 4-1 count, including a 3-0 mark in games played in Pauley.

Utah, 1-1, lost its season-opener at Utah State, 67-58 and won at home versus Minnesota on Tuesday. Senior forward Kaylee Whipple, a three-time all-conference selection, averaged 17.0 ppg and 5.9 rpg a year ago.

Utah leads the series with the Bruins by a 3-1 margin. The teams last met in Salt Lake on Dec. 1, 2001, a 89-42 Ute win. The Utes were 23-10 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament where they lost to Maryland in the second round.

Iowa Challenge Recap
UCLA opened the Iowa Hawkeye Challenge with a 61-55 loss to Illinois State, a team which won the Missouri Valley Conference championship a year ago. The Bruins rebounded on day two of the Challenge behind 21 points from Erica Tukiainen for a 77-51 win over Santa Clara. The Bruin senior was named to the all-tournament team.

UCLA shot just 25% in the first half (29.9% for the game) against Illinois State and fell behind 27-23 at the break. ISU built its lead up to as many as 11 points in the second half before UCLA battled back to tie the game at 53-all with 1:48 to play. The Redbirds connected on 18 of 22 second-half free throws, including five of six in the last minute of play to ice the game. Darxia Morris led UCLA with 12 points. Markel Walker had 10 points and nine rebounds in her first collegiate game.

UCLA outscored Santa Clara 13-4 at the end of the first half to take a 37-25 lead at intermission and then put together a 12-0 run in the early stages of the second half to seal the win. Erica Tukiainen made three three-point shots in the final 40 seconds of the initial half and nailed two more threes during the second-half run. She finished with 21 points and a career-best five made threes.

2009-10 Outlook
Head coach Nikki Caldwell came to UCLA a season ago stressing that her teams would defend and rebound the basketball. The 2008-09 team did just that while winning 19 games and posting the nation's seventh-best rebound margin (8.7/g) and the 24th-best steals mark (10.7/g). It now looks to lift the bar even higher in the coming season.

Coach Caldwell welcomes back a solid base for 2009-10 which features four starters and nine letterwinners --- and includes the top four scorers from a year ago; three of the top four rebounders; the top two in assists; the top five three-point shooters; five of the top six in blocked shots.

'The players have come up with a theme to this season --- go hard or go home,' explained coach Caldwell. 'With that in mind, I have asked all the players to hold each other accountable as we approach drills, practices and games and not to cut corners.'

'We will rely on our quickness and athleticism to push tempo at every opportunity,' continued the second-year mentor. 'On offense, we will play people at multiple positions and spread the court. We will be creative with our full-court pressure defense, working to delay and disrupt. We want to be aggressive for the full 94 feet.'

'If you asked me for one difference on this year's team, it would have to be the team chemistry,' related coach Caldwell. 'We are all on the same page, with the same focus on the task at hand. We live in the moment.'

The three Bruins making up the senior class feature players who cover the perimeter to the inside game. Center Moniquee Alexander (6-6) is coming off of the most productive season of her career (4.5 ppg/ 4.4 rpg).

Guard Erica Tukiainen (6-0) is a versatile wing player who earned honorable mention all-conference honors after posting a career-best 8.3 ppg scoring average. She also converted on a team-leading 27 three-point shots.

Guard Allison Taka (5-8) is a vocal leader and a quality threat from the outside. She tied for third on the team in three-point shots made (18) last season.

In addition, the Bruins return four juniors, including last year's leading scorer guard Doreena Campbell (12.9). She earned second-team all-conference accolades a year ago while finishing among the Pac-10 statistical leaders in five categories --- scoring-11th; assists-6th; free throw percentage-8th; steals-T14th; assist/turnover ratio-6th. She netted 26 three-point shots (26-65) and began the season ranked as the best percentage three-point shooter in UCLA history (49-118, .415), with over 100 attempts.

Forward Nina Earl appeared in all 31 games last season and averaged 6.0 ppg. She started four contests and played double digit minutes in 23 games.

Guard Darxia Morris saw action in 27 games with 11 starts last season and averaged 8.1 ppg. She makes things happen, as evidenced by her finishes of 15th in the conference in assists (2.5/g) and 13th in steals (1.4)

Forward/center Christina Nzekwe saw action in 29 games with 14 starts and posted career-best numbers almost across the board.

The sophomore class features a pair of players who stepped right into the rotation a year ago and also adds one highly honored transfer.

Forward Atonye Nyingifa saw action in all 31 contests and started the final 16 games. She was selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman squad and was the lone Bruin chosen to the Pac-10 All-Tournament team. She led the team in rebounding during the Pac-10 games only (5.6 rpg). In May of 2009, she was invited to take part in the USA Basketball Trials, however, she suffered a serious knee injury during that competition. She is continuing her rehabilitation process during the month of November and is expected to once again be a key contributor this year.

Guard Rebekah Gardner had her moments in her freshman campaign and poured in a then career-high 13 points in the win over USC.

Jasmine Dixon (5-11) transferred to UCLA from Rutgers last year and will look to regain her eligibility to compete in mid-December after the completion of the 2009 Fall Quarter. Dixon averaged 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in the five games she played at Rutgers.

In addition, the Bruins welcome two exciting freshmen who each bring with them a national reputation. Forward / guard Markel Walker was a McDonald's All-America selection after averaging 25.6 ppg and 14.1 rpg for Pittsburgh, PA Schenley HS.

Mariah Williams is a guard with electric speed and quickness. She averaged 11.8 points per game and 6.4 assists while leading Regis Jesuit HS to its first Colorado state title last season.

What's Returning from '08-09
85% Field Goals Made (647 of 762)
78% Games Started (121/155)
82% Minutes Played (5,097/6,220)
86% Points (1,767 of 2,065)
86% Rebounds (1,086/1,269)
98% 3-Pt. Field Goals (105/107)
84% Assists (320/382)
78% Steals (259/333)
73% Blocks (66/90)

Pre-Season Prognostications - No. 4
The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish fourth in the conference in the annual pre-season poll. Stanford was picked to finish first. The Cardinal (81 points) were followed by Cal (67), Arizona State (64), UCLA (63), USC (48), Washington State (33), Oregon State (29), Oregon (23), Arizona (22), and Washington (20).

The Pac-10 media seconded the coaches vote by placing the Bruins fourth in their pre-season poll. Stanford, with 210 points, was the media's choice to finish in the top spot in the league. Following in second place was Arizona State (175), Cal (170), UCLA (158), USC (124), Oregon State (84), Washington State (81), Oregon (64), Arizona (57), and Washington (32).

Campbell All-Pac-10 Pick
Doreena Campbell, UCLA's leading returning scorer, was selected by the media to the pre-season All-Pac-10 squad. She was joined by Stanford's Jayne Appel, Cal's Alexis Gray-Lawson, Arizona's Ify Ibekwe, and Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen.

Looking Ahead
UCLA will be at home on Nov. 25 to host Princeton in Pauley at 7 p.m. Princeton was 14-14 last season and finished third in the Ivy League.

Staff Remains Intact
Coach Caldwell has assembled an impressive coaching staff featuring Stacie Terry, Tony Perotti and Tasha Butts and they will return as a group for the 2009-10 campaign.

Terry came to UCLA after working at the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked primarily with the perimeter players, and her responsibilities included recruiting coordinator, opponent scouting and film breakdown, assisting with summer camps, as well as coordinating all of the team's community service events. Terry has also been an assistant at the University of Illinois, Dayton and Louisville.

Perotti came to UCLA from Northern Arizona University, where he spent four seasons as an assistant. For the last two years of his tenure, he was associate head coach. Perotti served primarily as the team's recruiting coordinator, game scouting coordinator and in the development of perimeter players. Perotti has also been an assistant at the University of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Tennessee.

Butts, a standout player at the University of Tennessee (2001-04) and then in the WNBA, came West from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), where she was an assistant coach in 2007-08.

In addition, Pam Walker has continued on staff as the Director of Operations after serving on the Bruin coaching staff for 19 seasons.

UCLA welcomes Markel Walker (25.6 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 6.1 apg) of Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, PA and Mariah Williams (11.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, 3.2 spg) of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO for the 2009-10 season. The signing of Walker and Williams last fall gave UCLA the No. 15 overall recruiting class by HoopGurlz.com. The Bruins also bring in Jasmine Dixon, a former Parade Magazine All-American, who transferred from Rutgers and will be eligible following the end of the Fall Quarter (Dec. 14).

Making the Grade
Allison Taka was named to the first-team All-Pac-10 Academic team following the 2008-09 season. Erica Tukiainen was a second-team all-conference academic team selection.

Six members of the Bruin squad made the UCLA Athletic Director's honor roll (3.0 or better. at least 12 graded units) during the 2008-09 academic year - Moniquee Alexander, Doreena Campbell, Rebekah Gardner, Darxia Morris, Allison Taka and Erica Tukiainen.

Challenging Schedule
The Bruins face a schedule that features nine teams which advanced to post-season play last year. Six appeared in the NCAA Tournament (Utah, UC Santa Barbara, Tennessee, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal), and three played in the Women's NIT (Illinois State, Kansas, Oregon State).

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