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Bruins Return to Pauley, Host Washington

Jan 13, 2022
Jaelynn Penn (photo by Caren Nicdao)

GAME INFORMATION
UCLA Bruins (5-4, 0-1) vs. Washington Huskies (5-3, 0-0)
Date: Friday, Jan. 14
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Location: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
Watch: Pac-12 Network / Pac-12 Los Angeles
Listen: ucla.leanplayer.com (Dave Marcus)

SERIES HISTORY / SCOUTING REPORT: Washington Huskies
Friday's matchup between the Bruins and Huskies is the 69th all-time game in the series, with UCLA holding a 35-33 advantage. The Bruins have won the last two games in the series, most recently a 58-46 victory in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA also secured a resounding 84-50 win against the Huskies earlier in the season (Feb. 7, 2021).

Washington boasts a 5-3 record, with all eight games against non-conference opponents. The Huskies opened their season with a pair of wins, but went on to suffer defeats to notable opponents Louisville (Nov. 20) and North Carolina (Nov. 27). UW is riding a three-game winning streak, but hasn't played a game since a Dec. 20 win over Nevada. Washington has struggled on the offensive end, ranking at the bottom of the Pac-12 in points (57.9) and assists per game (12.9). The Huskies do lead the league in opponent three-point percentage at just 25.5 percent and allow just 56.9 points per game. Junior forward Haley Van Dyke is the team's leading scorer with 12.8 points per game.

RECAP -- UCLA at Colorado (Jan. 9)
Freshman Izzy Anstey had a career day on the glass with 13 rebounds, but UCLA (5-4, 0-1) couldn't power past Colorado (13-0, 2-0) on Sunday morning in Boulder on Jan. 9. Jaylyn Sherrod's 25 points led CU in the 71-63 win over the Bruins. Sherrod was a force getting to the basket and drawing fouls, attempting 17 free throws on the day and converting 13 attempts. Natalie Chou was UCLA's top scorer with 15 points, her fifth game putting up double-digit scoring totals this season. Jaelynn Penn added 11 points while Charisma Osborne and IImar'I Thomas each contributed 10 points apiece.

PAC-12 SCORERS -- Four in the Top 20
UCLA is the only program in the Pac-12 with four players among the league's top 20 scorers. Charisma Osborne is currently second in the league averaging a career-high 18.4 points on the year. The junior has scored in double figures in each of her eight games this season, including a trio of 20+ point performances. Graduate transfer IImar'I Thomas has continued her historic scoring career in collegiate basketball, averaging 17.2 points per game to rank third in the Pac-12. Thomas eclipsed 2,000-career points earlier this season. Natalie Chou is having a career year, averaging a career-high 12.5 points to tie for 14th in the Pac-12 thus far. Chou scored a career-high 31 points against San Jose State earlier this season. Jaelynn Penn is just behind with 12.4 points per game, the 17th-best mark in the Pac-12. Penn has scored in double figures in seven of nine games this season and has not missed from the free throw line this season (17-17).

NOTES ON THE BRUINS
• A win would make improve the Bruins to 36-33 all-time against the Huskies and earn the Bruins their third-straight win in the matchup.
• 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 the only team in the Pac-12 with four players among the league's top 20 scorers (2. Osborne, 3. Thomas, T14. Chou, 17. Penn).
• Charisma Osborne is tied with Dede Mosman ('92) 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 11 games dating back to last season.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored in double figures in seven of nine 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 (17-for-17).

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 915 points in her career, just 85 away from 1,000.
• Charisma Osborne has grabbed 94 steals across her career, just six away from 100.
• Natalie Chou has knocked down 145 three-pointers in her career, just five away from 150.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,430 points across her career, just 70 away from 1,500.
• Dominique Onu has scored 95 points across her career, just five 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 nine games this season.
• IImar'I Thomas has scored at least 18 points in six of nine games this season, including three games with at least 20 points.
• Kayla Owens has started eight of nine games for the Bruins after not making a single start in her previous three seasons with the team.  

OVERSEAS BRUINS
UCLA alumnae have a strong presence playing professionally overseas. Here is a rundown of the program's current professionals playing in leagues all over the world:
• Michaela Onyenwere ('21), Kennedy Burke ('19), and Rebekah Gardner ('12) are all teammates with Spar Girona in Spain. Burke is the team's leading scorer at 16.0 points per game, with Gardner (15.7) and Onyenwere (15.0) close behind.
• Monique Billings ('18) is currently playing for three-time WNBL champion JCU Townsville in Australia.
• Jordin Canada ('18) has played two games for Uni Gyor Mely-Ut in Hungary, putting up 15.5 points per game.
• Nirra Fields ('15) is plahing for Izmit in Turkey. She is averaging 18.3 points per game.
• Ally Rosenblum ('20) is in her first season overseason with A.S. Ramat Hasharon in Israel.
• Atonye Nyingifa ('14) is playing for Clarinos in Spain and has just returned from injury.

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 17.2 points per game and has scored at least 18 points in six of nine 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.

WNBA BRUINS
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 Midseason Top 25 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. Washington State (Jan. 16)
The Bruins are back in action for their second Pac-12 home contest of the weekend with a matchup against Washington State on Sunday, Jan. 16. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Los Angeles, with Dave Marcus handling the play-by-play radio call for ucla.leanplayer.com. The Bruins and Cougars split a pair of tight contests last season. UCLA secured a two-point victory at home on Jan. 17, 2021 behind 28 points from Charisma Osborne, while WSU earned a four-point win in Pullman on Feb. 5