Bruins Take on Kent State at Gulf Coast Showcase
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No. 19 UCLA (3-0, 0-0) vs. Kent State (3-0, 0-0)
Date: Friday, Nov. 26
Time: 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT
Location: Estero, Fla. (Hertz Arena)
Watch: FloHoops (paid subscription)
Listen: ucla.leanplayer.com (Dave Marcus)
GULF COAST SHOWCASE (Nov. 26-28)
The Bruins are set to play their next three games (Nov. 26-28) at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla. The eight-team field includes fellow 2021 NCAA Tournament programs Iowa State and South Dakota State, as well as UMass, Kent State, Charlotte, Penn State, and St. John's. All games in the tournament will be held at the Hertz Center and broadcast on FloHoops (paid subscription). UCLA is in the top half of the bracket and will play Kent State in the opening round and, subsequently, take on either UMass or South Dakota State.
THE MATCHUP: No. 20 UCLA vs. KENT STATE
The Bruins take on Kent State in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30pm ET/10:30am PT on FloHoops. Both programs enter the matchup 3-0 on the year. Sophomore guard Casey Santoro leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game, but the Golden Eagles boast a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging double figures. Kent State is coming off a 101-40 throttling of John Carroll, a win that saw all 12 different Golden Eagles get on the score sheet and head coach Todd Starkey earn his 250th-career win.
NOTES ON THE BRUINS
• A win would improve the Bruins to 4-0 for the third time in the last five years (2019-20, 2017-18)
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with two players averaging at least 20 points per game (Osborne 21.5, Thomas 20.3).
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with two players among the league's top five scorers (2. Osborne, 3. Thomas).
• The Bruins are one of only two teams in the Pac-12 (Oregon) with four players averaging double-digit scoring totals (Osborne 21.5, Thomas 20.3, Penn 12.7, Chou 11.0).
• IImar'I Thomas is leading the Pac-12 with 8.7 field goals made per game this season.
• IImar'I Thomas recorded her 40th-career 20+ point game with 21 points against CSUN (Nov. 18).
• The Bruins lead the Pac-12 and are fourth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage (.447). UCLA shot 9-for-17 (.529) from long range in its most recent win over Virginia (Nov. 21).
• The Bruins lead the Pac-12 and are seventh in the nation in free throw percentage (.848). UCLA shot 10-for-10 from the line in its most recent win over Virginia (Nov. 21).
• After recording six assists in a game just once in her four-year career at Indiana, Jaelynn Penn dished out a career-high seven assists in the Bruins' win over CSUN (Nov. 18) and then seven more against Virginia (Nov. 21).
• Charisma Osborne is leading the Pac-12 in minutes played per game (36.9).
• The Bruins (3-0) are one of 50 remaining undefeated teams in the nation.
• The Bruins have played in the last five NCAA Tournaments (four Sweet 16, one Elite 8 appearance).
BRUINS DEFEAT VIRGINIA (Nov. 21)
Natalie Chou led all scores with 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting to lead the Bruins past Virginia, 69-57, and improve UCLA to 3-0 to start the season. IImar'I Thomas continued her strong start to the season, contributing 19 points and three assists in the win. Jaelynn Penn was the Bruins' third double-digit scorer with 16 points on the night. UCLA earned its 13th-straight win at home against a non-conference opponent. The Bruins shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line after entering the contest leading the Pac-12 in free throw shooting.
ELITE RECRUITING CLASS -- Class of 2022
The Bruins have signed ESPN's No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for the high school class of 2022. It's the second No. 1-ranked class for the Bruins, as the 2014 recruiting haul included Lajahna Dummer and Kelli Hayes, as well as future WNBA pros Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. UCLA is now the only Pac-12 school since 2010 to sign multiple No. 1 classes and one of just four schools in the country to accomplish the feat since 2010. It should be noted that Kiki Rice is the highest-ranked recruit in UCLA WBB history and Gabriela Jaquez is the sister of UCLA MBB star Jaime Jaquez Jr. The current class features:
SIGNEEES: #2-ranked Kiki Rice (5-11 point guard), #19-ranked Gabriela Jaquez (6-0 forward), #22-ranked Londynn Jones (5-5 point guard), #49-ranked Christeen Iwuala (6-3 forward), and German standout Lina Sontag.
UCLA MILESTONE WATCH
• IImar'I Thomas has scored 1,986 points in her career, just 14 away from 2,000.
• Gina Conti has recorded 494 assists in her career, just six away from 500.
• Charisma Osborne has made 117 three-pointers in her career. She is tied with Thea Lemberger for sixth on UCLA's all-time three-pointers list.
• Charisma Osborne has dished out 139 assists in her career, just 11 away from 150.
• IImar'I Thomas has recorded 883 rebounds in her career, just 17 away from 900.
• Natalie Chou has scored 474 points across her UCLA career, just 26 away from 500.
WELCOME (BACK) TO WESTWOOD -- Transfers and Returners
The Bruins notably have eight players who did not suit up for the program a season ago. Coach Close reloaded with four transfers to fill out the roster: Gina Conti (point guard, Wake Forest), Angela Dugalic (forward, Oregon), Jaelynn Penn (guard, Indiana), and IImar'I Thomas (forward, Cincinnati). UCLA fans can enjoy the returns of Brynn Masikewich, Kayla Owens, and Kiara Jefferson, none of whom were with the program last season for various reasons. Redshirt freshman Izzy Anstey is also with the team for the first time, as the Australia native was unable to travel to the United States last year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
2021 WNBA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Michaela Onyenwere
After an historic Bruin career that saw her graduate as the program's fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,888 points, Michaela Onyenwere became the first UCLA WBB alumna to earn the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award. She was also the first Bruin basketball player since Jamaal Wilkes in 1975 to be named Rookie of the Year. She started 29 of 32 games for New York and went on to lead all rookies in scoring with 8.6 points per game. She notched nine double-digit scoring performances, including a 29-point outing against the Atlanta Dream on May 29. Onyenwere was third among rookies with 2.9 rebounds per contest and secured a career-high 10 boards against the Minnesota Lynx on Aug. 31. New York earned the eighth seed in WNBA Playoffs and fell in a heartbreaking 83-82 loss to the Phoenix Mercury. It was the first playoff appearance for New York since 2017.
UCLA maintained a strong presence in the WNBA this past season, as the Bruins had representation on the court, the sideline, and the front office across various organizations.
• Michaela Onyenwere earned Rookie of the Year honors with the New York Liberty, becoming the first UCLA Women's Basketball alumna to earn the honor. She averaged 8.6 points per game and won each of the league's four Rookie of the Month awards.
• Jordin Canada ('18) finished her fourth season with the Seattle Storm, putting up 5.8 points and 3.0 assists per game. Canada also boasts an apparel deal with Jumpman, as does UCLA Women's Basketball.
• Noelle Quinn ('07) was named Head Coach of the Seattle Storm during the 2021 season and guided the team to the WNBA playoffs.
• Monique Billings ('18) finished her fourth season in the WNBA with the Atlanta Dream. Billings averaged 8.1 points per game and grabbed 6.5 rebounds per contest.
• Kennedy Burke ('19) was traded to the Seattle Storm during the 2021 season and was reunited with former UCLA teammate, Jordin Canada. Burke averaged 2.9 points per game last season.
• Former Bruin sharpshooter Kari Korver ('17) finished her second season as the Director of Operations for the Los Angeles Sparks.
WATCH LIST RECOGNITION
The Bruins have been represented on the following national award watch lists and preseason teams:
• Charisma Osborne: Preseason All-Pac-12 team, Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard of the Year Award Top 20 Watch List, Wooden Award watch list, Wade Watch
• Gina Conti: Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year Award Top 20 Watch List, All-Pac-12 team honorable mention
• Natalie Chou: Preseason All-Pac-12 team honorable mention
UP NEXT: UCLA vs. TBD (Friday, Nov. 26)
The Bruins' next matchup of the Gulf Coast Showcase will be against South Dakota State or UMass in the top half of the tournament bracket. Tip-off for either matchup -- based on the winners of UCLA vs. Kent State and South Dakota State vs. Umass -- is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 27 at 5:00pm ET / 2:00pm PT. All games in the Gulf Coast Showcase will be broadcast on FloHoops.