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Bruins Take on Arizona in Primetime Matchup

Jan 25, 2022

UCLA Bruins (9-4, 4-1) vs. No. 8 Arizona (14-2, 4-2)
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 26
Time: 5:00 p.m. PT
Location: Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom
Watch: Pac-12 Network (Anne Marie Anderson, Tammy Blackburn)
Listen: (Dave Marcus)

Wednesday's matchup between the Bruins and Wildcats is the 86th all-time matchup between the programs. UCLA holds a commanding 62-23 lead in the series, with the Bruins most recently defeating Arizona in the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.   

Arizona enters Wednesday's matchup at 14-2 overall and 4-2 in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats are riding a two-game winning streak, having secured decisive victories over Utah (Jan. 21) and Colorado (Jan. 23) this past weekend. Shaina Pellington (28 pts) and Cate Reese (23 pts) combined for 51 of Arizona's 75 points in the victory over the Buffs, as Arizona held Colorado to just seven points in the first quarter. Reese is the team's leading scorer at 14.9 points per game and also leads the Wildcats with 6.1 rebounds per game. Arizona opened the year winning its first 13 games, including a victory over then-No. 6 Louisville in overtime.

RECAP -- UCLA vs. USC (Jan. 23)
Charisma Osborne was dominant on Sunday evening at Galen Center, scoring 27 points to help UCLA (9-4, 4-1) earn its fourth-straight win with a 68-58 victory over USC (9-7, 2-4). The win was the Bruins' fifth-straight against USC, as UCLA secured the regular-season crosstown sweep. IImar'I Thomas (14 pts) and Natalie Chou (10 pts) joined Osborne in double figures for the Bruins. Alissa Pili, Jordyn Jenkins, and Tera Reed each contributed 13 points apiece for USC.

LOOKING BACK -- UCLA vs. Arizona in 2020-21
The Bruins and Wildcats split the season series in 2020-21, with Arizona securing a win in the regular season and UCLA taking a victory during the Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats earned a 68-65 victory early in the regular season on Dec. 4, 2020. Michaela Onyenwere, Charisma Osborne, and Lauryn Miller all scored in double figures, but couldn't overcome Arizona on the night. UCLA's home contest was postponed last season, so the next meeting between the teams was during the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. Both teams won their quarterfinal matchups and met in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA held Arizona to just 49 points and secured a 58-49 win behind 24 points from Onyenwere. Charisma Osborne contributed seven points and seven rebounds while Natalie Chou added seven points and six rebounds.

• A win would improve the Bruins to 63-23 all-time against the Wildcats and earn the Bruins' their second-straight victory over the Wildcats.
• UCLA and Arizona are two of just three teams in the Pac-12 (Stanford) with at least four wins in Conference play.
• 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 lead the Pac-12 in free throw percentage at 78.4 percent and fewest turnovers per game at 13.2.
• Charisma Osborne scored a season-high 27 points in the team's win at USC, her fourth game with at least 25 points this season.
• Charisma Osborne has scored in double figures in each of her last 15 games dating back to last season.
• Charisma Osborne and IImar'I Thomas have each scored in double figures in UCLA's last nine games.
• IImar'I Thomas dished out a season-high seven assists in the team's win at USC (Jan. 23).
• Izzy Anstey scored a season-high six points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in the team's win at USC (Jan. 23).
• The Bruins grabbed a season-high 15 steals against USC, with Natalie Chou securing five on the day (Jan. 20).

• Charisma Osborne has scored 989 points in her career, just 11 away from 1,000.
• Charisma Osborne has knocked down 145 three-pointers across her career, just five away from 150.
• Charisma Osborne has dished out 174 assists across her career, just 26 away from 200.
• Natalie Chou has scored 937 points across her career, just 63 away from 1,000.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,467 points across her career, just 33 away from 1,500.
• Jaelynn Penn has dished out 235 assists across her career, just 15 away from 250.
• Chantel Horvat has scored 458 points across her career, just 42 away from 500.
• Chantel Horvat has dished out 96 assists across her career, just four away from 100.
• IImar'I Thomas has dished out 272 assists across her career, just 28 away from 300.

UCLA's 1-2 PUNCH -- Charisma Osborne and IImar'I Thomas
UCLA is the only team in the Pac-12 with a pair of players among the league's top five scorers, with junior guard Charisma Osborne currently second with 18.4 points per game and graduate transfer forward IImar'I Thomas third at 17.5 points per game. Osborne is coming off a 27-point outing in the team's road victory over USC, securing six rebounds and dishing out three assists in the win (Jan. 23). Thomas has impressed in her first season with the Bruins after transferring from Cincinnati, compiling 12 double-digit scoring efforts, including a 32-point performance in UCLA's dominant victory over San Jose State (Dec. 5). Osborne and Thomas have both scored in double figures in each of the Bruins' last nine games.

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:
• Kennedy Burke ('19), Rebekah Gardner ('12), Michaela Onyenwere ('21) -- Spar Girona -- Spain
• Monique Billings ('18) -- JCU Townsville -- Australia
• Jordin Canada ('18) -- Uni Gyor Mely-Ut -- Hungary
• Nirra Fields ('16) -- Izmit -- Turkey
• Ally Rosenblum ('20) -- A.S. Ramat Hasharon -- Israel
• Atonye Nyingifa ('14) -- Clarinos -- Spain

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.

PROLIFIC CAREER -- IImar'I Thomas at Cincinnati
Graduate forward IImar'I Thomas currently ranks third in the Pac-12 with 17.5 points per game and is coming off a 20-point outing in the team's win over USC (Jan. 22). 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. Oregon (Jan. 26)
The Bruins are back in action for a matchup against Oregon on the road. Tip-off is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 28 at 8:00 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Network.