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Bruins Eye Weekend Sweep with Matchup Against Washington State

Jan 15, 2022
Kayla Owens (photo by Caren Nicdao)

UCLA Bruins (6-4, 1-1) vs. Washington State (10-5, 2-2)
Date: Sunday, Jan. 16
Time: 12:00 p.m. PT
Location: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
Watch: Pac-12 Los Angeles (Tracy Warren, Ros Gold-Onwude)
Listen: (Dave Marcus)

Sunday's matchup between the Bruins and Cougars is the 68th all-time meeting between the teams, with UCLA holding a decisive 58-9 advantage in the series. Notably, the Bruins have never lost at home to the Cougars, winning all 33 games the teams have ever played in Los Angeles. The teams split the season series in 2020-21.

The Cougars enter Sunday's game coming off a 71-63 victory over USC on Friday, a game that saw WSU erase a 17-point deficit to earn its road victory against the Trojans in eight seasons. Juhanna Teder put up a game-high 20 points in the effort. The Cougars improved to 10-5 with the win and snapped a two-game skid that included losses to Stanford (Jan. 2) and Arizona (Jan. 7). Washington State is led in scoring by Charlisse Leger-Walker (16.4 ppg), who has six 20+ point performances to her credit thus far in 2021-22.

RECAP -- UCLA vs. Washington (Jan. 14)
UCLA outscored Washington, 23-10, in the third quarter, turning a 27-24 halftime deficit into a 63-48 victory in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. It was the Bruins' third-straight win over Washington dating back to last season. Forward IImar'I Thomas and guard Jaelynn Penn combined for 32 of UCLA's 39 second-half points. Thomas finished with a game-high 25 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Penn totaled 16 points and also nabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Notably, Penn also hit a pair of free throws and improved to 19-for-19 from the line this season. Guard Charisma Osborne joined them in double-figures with 11 points.

IImar'I Thomas is leading the Bruins in scoring in her first season with the program after transferring from Cincinnati. The graduate transfer is second in the Pac-12 with 18.0 points per game and is coming off a 25-point outing against Washington that saw her go 12-for 18 from the field in over 38 minutes of action. It was the fourth time this season that she converted over 10 field goals and also her fourth 20+ point performance of the year. Thomas notched a season-high 32 points in UCLA's win over San Jose State, going 15-for-19 from the field in the performance (Dec. 5). The Oakland, Calif., native has scored in double figuers in nine of the Bruins' 10 games this season and has formed a great scoring partnership with junior guard Charisma Osborne, who is currently third in the Pac-12 in scoring at 17.6 points per contest.

• A win would make improve the Bruins to 59-9 all-time and 34-0 at home against Washington State.
• A win would improve the Bruins to 6-0 at home this season.
• The Bruins shot 51.9% from the field against Washington and have yet to lose (4-0) this season when shooting over 50%.
• The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 with two players among the league's top five scorers (2. Thomas, 3. Thomas).
• Charisma Osborne is currently fourth all-time in UCLA history in threes made (137). She is one away from Nirra Fields' ('16) total of 138.
• Charisma Osborne, Jaelynn Penn, and IImar'I Thomas have all scored in double figures in each of the last four games.
• The Bruins outscored Washington, 39-21, in the second half this past Friday (Jan. 14).
• The Bruins earned a 32-22 rebounding advantage against Washington (Jan. 14).
• Charisma Osborne has scored in double figures in each of her last 12 games dating back to last season.
• Jaelynn Penn has yet to miss from the free throw line this year (19-for-19).

• Charisma Osborne has made 137 three-pointers in her career and needs one more triple to tie Nirra Fields for third all-time. Lisa Willis and Kari Korver are tied for the program lead with 256 made threes.
• Charisma Osborne has scored 926 points in her career, just 74 away from 1,000.
• Charisma Osborne has grabbed 94 steals across her career, just six away from 100.
• Natalie Chou has knocked down 146 three-pointers in her career, just four away from 150.
• Natalie Chou has scored 910 points across her career, just 90 away from 1,000.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,446 points across her career, just 54 away from 1,500.
• Dominique Onu has scored 95 points across her career, just five away from 100.
• Chantel Horvat has scored 442 points across her career, just 58 away from 500.

• Jaelynn Penn has scored in double figures in eight of 10 games this season, including a season-high 20 against San Jose State (Dec. 5).
• Charisma Osborne recorded her seventh-career double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds over St. John's (Nov. 28).
• 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 10 games this season.
• IImar'I Thomas has scored at least 18 points in seven of 10 games this season, including four games with at least 20 points.
• Kayla Owens has started nine of 10 games for the Bruins after not making a single start in her previous three seasons with the team.  

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.

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 second in the Pac-12 with 18.0 points per game and is coming off a 25-point outing against Washington this past Friday. 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.

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. USC (Jan. 20)
The Bruins are back in action for a matchup against USC on Thursday, Jan. 20. Pac-12 Los Angeles is set to cover the live action with Dave Marcus on the radio for It's the first of back-to-back games against the Trojans, with the battle at Galen Center taking place on Sunday, Jan. 23.  UCLA swept the season series against the Trojans last season.