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Women's Basketball Hosts Utah on Senior Day Sunday

Feb 19, 2022
Eliana Sigal, Kiara Jefferson, Natalie Chou, Gina Conti, Jaelynn Penn, IImar'I Thomas, Chantel Horvat and Kayla Owens

UCLA Bruins (11-10, 6-7) vs. Utah (15-9, 6-6)
Date: Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022
Time: 12:00 p.m. PT
Location: Los Angeles, Calif. (Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom)
Watch: Pac-12 Network (Anne Marie Anderson, Tammy Blackburn)
Radio: (Dave Marcus)

Sunday's matchup between the Bruins and Utes is the 22nd all-time game in the series, with UCLA holding an 18-3 advantage. The Bruins have won 17 straight in the series and are 8-1 all-time in Pauley Pavilion. Utah's last victory came on Dec. 1, 2001 in Salt Lake City. The two teams were scheduled to play in Utah in January, but the game was postponed due to Covid protocols within the Utah team.

Utah enters Sunday's game with a 15-9 overall and 6-6 record in conference play and had won five of its last six games before falling to USC on Friday, 83-62. The Utes have three players averaging in double figures - freshman Gianna Kneepkens (12.1 ppg), junior Brynna Maxwell (11.2) and freshman Jenna Johnson (10.7).

Sunday's game marks the final regular season home game for eight Bruin seniors and graduate students. The great eight of Natalie Chou, Gina Conti, Chantel Horvat, Kiara Jefferson, Kayla Owens, Jaelynn Penn, Eliana Sigal and IImar'I Thomas will be honored in pregame senior ceremonies, beginning at approximately 11:44 am.

LAST GAME -- UCLA vs. Colorado (Feb. 18)
IImar'I Thomas led the team with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Charisma Osborne and Dominique Onu added 10 each in a 67-54 loss to the Buffaloes Friday night in the Bruins' annual Play4Kay game. The first quarter was extremely close, with each team shooting 50% from the field. With the game tied at 26-26 with just over four minutes to play in the quarter, Colorado got hot, going on an 8-0 run to take a 34-26 lead with a minute to play. The Buffaloes scored the first six points of the third quarter to go ahead 43-30 and would move out to their largest lead of the game up until that point not long after, 48-32.

LOOKING BACK -- UCLA at Utah (Feb. 12, 2021)
Behind a game-high 25 points from Michaela Onyenwere, the Bruins defeated Utah, 69-58, on Feb. 12, 2021 in Salt Lake City. In a reserve role for the Bruins, Chantel Horvat added 14 points and 12 rebounds for her third-career double-double. Her dozen boards matched a career high. Natalie Chou (12 points) and Charisma Osborne (10) rounded out a quartet of double-digit scorers for UCLA, which held the lead from the game's opening moments.

Junior guard Charisma Osborne remains in the mix for several year-end awards, being selected to the Late Season Top 20 Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy's, the Midseason Watch List for the Jersey Mike's Naismith Trophy, and the Top 10 Watch List for the Ann Meyers-Drysdale Award. Osborne is currently second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 17.1 points per game. She has scored in double figures in 18 of the 19 games she has played this season and has seven 20-point games to her credit, including two in her last four games (22 at Washington Feb. 13 and 23 at Washington State Feb. 11). She also has a 27-point effort at USC on Jan. 23 and a 26-point output against UConn on Dec. 11. Earlier this season, Osborne joined UCLA's 1,000-point club and now has 1,092 career points.

• UCLA has two players ranked in the Top 6 in scoring in the Pac-12 (No. 2 Charisma Osborne - 17.1 and No. 6 IImar'I Thomas - 15.3). No other school has more than one player in the Top 10.
• UCLA leads the Pac-12 with just 12.8 turnovers per game.
• UCLA ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (.756), No. 3 in assist/turnover ratio (1.10) and No. 4 in turnover margin (+2.76).
• Osborne had a pair of 20-point games last weekend, recording game-highs of 23 points at Washington State and 22 points at Washington. She has seven 20+ point performances this season.
• UCLA is 11-3 this season when holding its opponent under 70 points, its only losses coming this month at Washington State, at Oregon and vs. Colorado.

• Charisma Osborne became the 38th player to join the 1,000 point club at UCLA after scoring 13 against Arizona (Jan. 26). She now has 1,092 career points. Osborne has dished out 197 assists across her career, just three away from 200.
• Natalie Chou scored her 1,000th career point with a three-pointer against Colorado on Friday.
• IImar'I Thomas has dished out 294 career assists, just six away from 300.
• Thomas has 986 career rebounds, just 14 shy of 1,000.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,469 career points, just 31 away from 1,500.
• Penn has dished out 236 career assists, 14 away from 250.

The Bruins are starting to get more players back in the rotation, with three players all making their season debuts in the past three weeks. Redshirt freshman forward Angela Dugalic, a transfer from Oregon, made her first Bruin appearance on Feb. 11 at Washington State, playing 16 minutes and grabbing 4 rebounds. Dugalic scored her first points as a Bruin the following game at Washington, netting two baskets and snagging three rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Junior guard Camryn Brown returned on Jan. 30 at Oregon State after her ACL injury suffered at the end of 2020-21 and has started three of the last five games. Junior forward Brynn Masikewich made her first appearance since 2019-20 during the Bruins' Jan. 26 game against Arizona and also saw action at Oregon State on Jan. 30. Additionally, Jaelynn Penn returned on Feb. 13 from a hand injury that kept her out of seven games and started the last two games. She had started the season's first 11 games prior to her injury.

UCLA's 1-2 PUNCH -- Charisma Osborne and IImar'I Thomas
UCLA is the only Pac-12 team with a pair of players among the league's Top 6 scorers, with junior guard Charisma Osborne currently second with 17.1 points per game and graduate transfer forward IImar'I Thomas eighth at 15.3 points per game. Osborne has two 20-point games in her last four games, scoring game-highs of 23 points at Washington State and 22 points at Washington) and also had a 27-point outing in the team's road victory over USC on Jan. 23, securing six rebounds and dishing out three assists in the win. Thomas has impressed in her first season with the Bruins after transferring from Cincinnati, compiling 18 double-digit scoring efforts, including a 32-point performance in UCLA's dominant victory over San Jose State (Dec. 5) and her first double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) of the season against California (Feb. 6). Osborne has scored 10+ points in 18 of 19 games she has played this season, and Thomas has reached double figures in 15 of UCLA's last 17 contests and in 18 games total.

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. Kiki Rice is the highest-ranked recruit in UCLA WBB history, and Gabriela Jaquez is the sister of UCLA MBB star Jaime Jaquez Jr. Both players were recently named McDonald's All-Americans, and Rice is a finalist for the Naismith Girls Player of the Year award.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 U.S. last year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

PROLIFIC CAREER -- IImar'I Thomas at Cincinnati
Graduate forward IImar'I Thomas currently ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with 15.3 points per game and recently had a 20-point outing in the team's win over USC (Jan. 20) and a double-double (16 points/12 rebounds) against Cal (Feb. 6). Thomas transferred to UCLA this past offseason following a sensational four-year career with Cincinnati. She ranked third all-time in scoring there with 1,925 points and is the only player in program history to record 1,900+ points and 800+ rebounds. She currently has 2,246 points and 986 rebounds. Thomas was the 2021 AAC Player of the Year after averaging 23.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. The three-time first-team All-AAC selection and 2018 AAC Freshman of the Year scored in double figures 89 times as a Bearcat and recorded 37 games with at least 20 points.

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, Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List, Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard of the Year Award Top 10 Watch List, Jersey Mike's Naismith Trophy for Women's Player of the Year Midseason Watch List
• 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 at Arizona (Feb. 24), at Arizona State (Feb. 26)
The Bruins will wrap up the regular season in Arizona with a Thursday, Feb. 24 game at Arizona and a Sunday, Feb. 26 at Arizona State.