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Bruins Take on St. John's in Final Game of Gulf Coast Showcase

Nov 27, 2021
Dominique Onu (photo by Carlie Heuple)

No. 19 UCLA (3-2, 0-0) vs. St. John's (3-3, 0-0)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 27
Time: 11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT
Location: Estero, Fla. (Hertz Arena)
Watch: FloHoops (paid subscription)
Listen: (Dave Marcus)

THE MATCHUP: No. 19 UCLA vs. St. John's
The Bruins are back for their final game of the Gulf Coast Showcase with a matchup against St. John's (NY). Tip-off is scheduled for 11:00am ET/8:00am PT from Hertz Arena.  All games in the Gulf Coast Showcase are broadcast on FloHoops. UCLA looks to exit the tournament with a victory after losing its first two games (Kent State, South Dakota State).

St. John's enters the contest 3-3 on the year and winless in the Gulf Coast Showcase, having lost their previous matchups in Estero to Penn State (Nov. 26) and Charlotte (Nov. 27). The Red Storm boasts recent victories against Temple (Nov. 17) and Yale (Nov. 21). Leilani Correa leads a balanced scoring attack with 18.2 points per game, with three Rayven Peeples (15.0), Kadaja Bailey (14.0), and Danielle Patterson (10.3) all in double figures, as well. 

• A win would improve the Bruins to 3-0 all-time against St. John's with previous wins in 2015 and 2012.
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with two players among the league's top five scorers (2. Osborne, 4. Thomas).
• Charisma Osborne has scored at least 15 points in each of her four games this season.
• Charisma Osborne has recorded multiple assists in each of her last 15 games.
• Charisma Osborne has scored in double figures in each of her last seven games.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored at least 15 points in each of her last three games (averaging 15.7 in the stretch).
• Neither Jaelynn Penn (10-10) nor Natalie Chou (9-9) have missed from the free throw line this season.
• IImar'I Thomas recorded her 40th-career 20+ point game with 21 points against CSUN (Nov. 18).
• Jaelynn Penn has recorded at least five rebounds in each of her five games this season. She leading the Bruins with 6.2 rpg.
• Charisma Osborne is leading the Pac-12 in minutes played per game (36.3).
• The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in three-point field goal percentage (35-86, .407)
• The Bruins lead the Pac-12 and are sixth in the nation in free throw percentage (64-78, .821).

The Bruins suffered their second-straight loss of the Gulf Coast Showcase with a defeat at the hands of South Dakota State by a final score of 76-66. IImar'I Thomas led all scores with 18, but the Jackrabbits countered with scoring from all 10 of their active players, led by 11-point outings from Tori Nelson and Lindsey Theuninck. Jaelynn Penn added 15 points for her third-straight double-digit scoring output. UCLA Head Coach Cori Close and SDSU Head Coach Aaron Johnston coached together for Team USA at the 2021 U19 World Cup earlier this summer, with the pair helping guide the Americans to a gold medal.

UCLA graduate forward IImar'I Thomas reached a historic milestone in UCLA's game against South Dakota State on Nov. 27. She scored 18 points in the game and eclipsed 2,000 points across her collegiate career. She scored 1,925 of those points during her four-year career at Cincinnati, where she became the only player in program history to record 1,900+ points and 800+ rebounds. She scored at least 20 points in 38 games as a Bearcat and already has two performances in the UCLA uniform. Thomas has scored at least 18 points in four games this season and is currently fourth in the Pac-12 with 16.6 points per game

• Gina Conti has recorded 494 assists in her career, just six away from 500.
• Charisma Osborne has made 123 three-pointers in her career. She is sixth on UCLA's all-time list for three-pointers made. Japreece Dean ('19) is fifth with 134.
• Charisma Osborne has dished out 144 assists in her career, just 6 away from 150.
• IImar'I Thomas has recorded 891 rebounds in her career, just 16 away from 900.
• Natalie Chou has scored 494 points across her UCLA career, just six away from 500.
• Natalie Chou has dished out 199 assists in her career, just one away from 200.
• Natalie Chou has knocked down 137 three-pointers in her career, just 13 away from 150.

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.

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.

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

The Bruins return home for their next game, taking on San Jose State at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 5. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00pm PT. UCLA will broadcast an in-house live stream of the game.