Bruins Take on Texas Southern at Pauley
UCLA Bruins (5-3, 0-0) vs. Texas Southern Tigers (0-6, 0-0)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 16
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Location: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
Watch: UCLA Live Stream -- pac-12.com/live/ucla (Dave Marcus)
Listen: ucla.leanplayer.com (Dave Marcus)
SCOUTING REPORT: Texas Southern Tigers
Thursday's matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between UCLA and Texas Southern. The Tigers haven't won a game yet this season and enter the contest 0-6, but have compiled an impressive resume of non-conference opponents to start the season. Texas Southern has already faced Pac-12 opponents Arizona (Nov. 15) and Colorado (Nov. 23), as well as SEC foes Texas A&M (Dec. 9) and LSU (Dec. 12). Following the matchup against the Bruins, Texas Southern will stay in Los Angeles for a game against USC on Dec. 18 at Galen Center.
The Tigers enter the matchup with UCLA having scored over 55 points in just one game thus far, the team's opener at DePaul (L, 71-114). The Bruins are familiar with Texas Southern's leading scorer, Shalexxus Aaron (10.7 ppg), as the graduate guard played several years across town with USC. Fellow graduate guard, Ataiya Bridges, is also capable of a big scoring performance, as she notched 27 points against DePaul and added her second double-digit scoring performance with 10 against LSU.
RECAP -- UCLA vs. UConn (Dec. 11)
• The Bruins fell to 5-3 on the year with a 71-61 loss to UConn on Saturday, Dec. 11 in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
• Charisma Osborne led all scores with 26 points and hit a career-high seven three-pointers.
• Jaelynn Penn and IImar'I Thomas each contributed 10 points on the day.
• It was the first regular season collegiate women's basketball game ever to air on ABC.
LEADING THE PAC -- Charisma Osborne
Charisma Osborne is the current Pac-12 scoring leader at 19.6 points per and is coming off a 26-point performance against UConn that saw her drain a career-high eight three-pointers. She was just one triple shy of tying Michelle Greco's single-game record of eight three-pointers, which Greco set against Michigan State in November 2001. Osborne has scored 15 or more points in six of her seven games this season and has hit multiple triples in all seven of her games. She has two more 20+ point performances to her credit this season, putting up 24 in the team's opener against Pepperdine (Nov. 10) and 21 against Kent State at the Gulf Coast Showcase (Nov. 26). The junior notched a double-double against St. John's at the Gulf Coast Showcase, contributing 19 points and adding a season-high 11 rebounds (Nov. 28).
NOTES ON THE BRUINS
• A win would make it 16-straight home, non-conference victories for the Bruins.
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with two players among the league's top five scorers (1. Osborne, 3. Thomas).
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with four players among the league's top 20 scorers (1. Osborne, 3. Thomas, 16. Penn, 20. Chou).
• Charisma Osborne is tied with Dede Mosman for fourth all-time in UCLA history with 136 threes. Nirra Fields ('16) is third with 138.
• IImar'I Thomas' 32-point outing against San Jose State (Dec. 5) was her seventh-career 30+ point performance.
• IImar'I Thomas eclipsed the 2,000-career-point milestone in the Bruins' game over South Dakota State (Nov. 27).
• Charisma Osborne has scored in double figures in each of her last 10 games dating back to last season.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored in double figures in six of eight games this season, including a season-high 20 against San Jose State (Dec. 5).
• Jaelynn Penn has yet to miss from the free throw line this year (15-for-15).
UCLA MILESTONE WATCH
• Charisma Osborne has made 136 three-pointers in her career.
-- She is tied with DeDe Mosman ('92) for fourth place on UCLA's all-time list with 136 made three-pointers. Nirra Fields ('16) is third with 138.
• Charisma Osborne has scored 905 points in her career, just 95 away from 1,000.
• Charisma Osborne has grabbed 93 steals across her career, just seven away from 100.
• Natalie Chou has knocked down 144 three-pointers in her career, just six away from 150.
• Chantel Horvat has logged 1,492 minutes across her career, just eight away from 1,500.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,420 points across her career, just 80 away from 1,500.
• Kayla Owens has scored 95 points across her career, just five away from 100.
• Dominique Onu has scored 93 points across her career, just seven away from 100.
NOTES ON THE BRUINS (continued)
• Charisma Osborne recorded her seventh-career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds over St. John's (Nov. 28).
• Dominique Onu has almost tripled her scoring output from 2.3 points per game (2020-21) to 6.6 points per game (2021-22).
• Dominique Onu scored a career-high 10 points in the team's win over St. John's, good for her first-career 10+ point performance (Nov. 28).
• Kayla Owens grabbed nine rebounds against San Jose State and has secured at least five boards in six of eight games this season.
• IImar'I Thomas has scored at least 18 points in six of eight games this season, including three games with at least 20 points.
• Jaelynn Penn is leading the Bruins in rebounding (6.3 rpg) and has grabbed at least five boards in seven of eight games this season.
• Kayla Owens has started all eight games for the Bruins after not making a single start in her previous three seasons with the team.
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.
HISTORIC GAME RECAP -- UCLA vs. San José State (Dec. 5)
• The Bruins defeated the Spartans, 112-33. It was the second-most points the Bruins have scored in a game during Coach Close's 11-year tenure (129 vs. San José State on Nov. 10, 2017).
• UCLA held the Spartans scoreless in the second quarter.
• Natalie Chou (31 pts) and IImar'I Thomas (32 pts) each put up 30+ point performances. It was only the third time in Pac-12 history since at least 1999-00 that two players from the same team scored at least 30 points in a single game.
• The Bruins assisted on 31 of 43 made baskets, the most assists in a game by UCLA since at least 1999-00.
PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Dec. 6) -- Natalie Chou
Natalie Chou was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday, Dec. 6. Chou had a career game in the Bruins' 112-33 victory over San José State, putting up a career-high 31 points as she eclipsed the 30-point barrier for the first time in her career. She tied a career high with 11 made field goals, including a career-best six three pointers. She dazzled with 11 assists, surpassing her previous best of seven in a single game, set back in 2018. Chou was also strong on the defensive end, recording two steals and two blocks.
PROLIFIC CAREER -- IImar'I Thomas at Cincinnati
Graduate forward IImar'I Thomas currently ranks third in the Pac-12 with 19.1 points per game and has scored at least 18 points in six of eight games this season. Thomas transferred to UCLA this past offseason following a sensational four-year career with Cincinnati. She ranks third all-time in scoring with 1,925 points and is the only player in program history to record 1,900+ points and 800+ rebounds. She was the 2021 AAC Player of the Year after averaging 23.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. Thomas scored in double figures 89 times as a Bearcat and recorded 37 games with at least 20 points. She was a three-time First Team All-AAC selection and the 2018 AAC Freshman of the Year.
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.
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.
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. No. 24 Ohio State (Dec. 19)
The Bruins are back in action at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom for a matchup against No. 24 Ohio State. The is set to be televised on Pac-12 Network at 5:00 p.m. PT. Dave Marcus will handle the radio broadcast for ucla.leanplayer.com. It's UCLA's second matchup against a ranked team this year and first such matchup at home. The Bruins are 3-5 all-time against the Buckeyes, most recently taking an 83-60 loss on the road in December 2004.