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Women's Basketball Closes Regular Season at ASU Saturday

Feb 25, 2022
Jaelynn Penn

UCLA Bruins (12-11, 7-8) at Arizona State (12-12, 4-8)
Date: Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022
Time: 12:00 p.m. MT / 11:00 a.m. PT
Location: Tempe, Ariz. (Desert Financial Arena)
Watch: Pac-12 Arizona (Daron Sutton, Tammy Blackburn)
Radio: (Dave Marcus)

Saturday's regular season finale between the Bruins and Sun Devils is the 89th all-time game in the series. UCLA holds an 60-28 advantage and has won 11 straight, including four in a row in Tempe. Arizona State's last win came at home on Feb. 5, 2016, 65-61.  The teams did not play earlier this season, as the scheduled UCLA home game on Dec. 31 was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Arizona State enters Saturday's game with a 12-12 overall and 4-8 record in conference play after a 60-58 loss to USC on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. It was their fourth consecutive loss. Jade Loville leads the Sun Devils in scoring with a 16.7 average, and Mael Gilles ranks fourth in the conference in rebounding with a 7.8 average. 
LAST GAME -- UCLA at Arizona (Feb. 24)
UCLA knocked off No. 12 Arizona in Tucson, snapping the Wildcats' 16-game home court winning streak. The Bruins' suffocating defense limited Arizona to 5-of-30 shooting in the second half, while Ilmar'l Thomas poured in all 16 of her points to help break open a close game in which UCLA led 28-27 at the half. Charisma Osborne added a team-high 18 points and with 10 rebounds joined Thomas, who finished at 11 boards, with double-doubles. UCLA enjoyed a dominant 48-26 rebounding edge on the 'Cats on the night, with Thomas picking up her 1,000th career rebound during the contest.

LOOKING BACK -- UCLA vs. Arizona State (Jan. 29, 2021)
Charisma Osborne poured in a game-high 27 points, and Emily Bessoir scored 12 off the bench as No. 5 UCLA held off Arizona State, 60-57.  The Bruins ran out to a 19-6 first quarter lead only to see ASU tie it up after three, 40-40. The Sun Devils pulled to within two points with 43 seconds remaining, but a three-ppointer by Bessoir upped the Bruins' advantage to five. Taya Hanson hit a three of her own with 20 seconds left on the clock to again pull within two, but Bessoir came through with a free throw with 15 seconds remaining, and Hanson missed a game-tying three just before the buzzer.    

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 (17.1ppg), third in free throw percentage (85.7%), fourth in three-pointers (50) and minutes per game (34.5) and sixth in assists (3.45 average). She has scored in double figures in 19 of the 20 games she has played this season and has seven 20-point games to her credit, including two in her last five 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 1,110 career points. Her 162 career three-pointers rank third all-time at UCLA.    
• UCLA has two players ranked in the Top 5 in scoring in the Pac-12 (No. 2 Charisma Osborne - 17.1 and  No. 5 IImar'I Thomas - 15.5). No other school has more than one player in the Top 5, and only one other school has two players in the Top 10 (No. 7 Nyara Sabally and No. 8 Endyia Rogers).  
• UCLA has the second-lowest average number of turnovers in the Pac-12 with just 13.3 per game.  
• UCLA ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (.768) and No. 4 in assist/turnover ratio (1.04) and turnover margin (+1.87). 
• Thomas has led the Bruins in rebounding in six of the last seven games and in four consecutive. She led the team in both scoring and rebounding against Colorado (17 points, 8 rebounds) and Utah (20 points, 9 rebounds). 
• Thomas has two double-doubles in the month of February, recording 16 points and 12 rebounds against Cal on Feb. 6 and 16 points and 11 rebounds at Arizona on Feb. 24. 
• UCLA has held its opponent under 70 points in six of the last seven games and is 12-3 this season when doing so. 

• 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 1,110 career points. Osborne recorded her 200th career assist and 400th career rebound at Arizona (Feb. 24).
• IImar'I Thomas recorded her 1,000th career assist at Arizona (Feb. 24) and now has 1,006. She reached 2,000 career points earlier this year and has 2,282 currently. She also has dished out 297 career assists, just three away from 300. 
• Natalie Chou scored her 1,000th career point with a three-pointer against Colorado on Feb. 18 and has 1,027.
• Jaelynn Penn has scored 1,485 career points, just 15 away from 1,500. 
• Penn has dished out 238 career assists, 12 away from 250.

Two players who started the calendar year on the injured list have returned in the past month to play solid minutes for the Bruins. 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. She has now played in six games, averaging 14.5 minutes, 4.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Junior guard Camryn Brown returned on Jan. 30 at Oregon State after her ACL injury suffered at the end of 2020-21 and has played in nine games, with three starts. Brown is shooting 47.8% from the field, second-best on the team. 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 has started the last four 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 5 scorers, with junior guard Charisma Osborne currently second with 17.1 points per game and graduate transfer forward IImar'I Thomas fifth at 15.5 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 20 double-digit scoring efforts, including a 32-point performance in UCLA's dominant victory over San Jose State (Dec. 5) and a pair of double-doubles against California Feb. 6 (16 points, 12 rebounds) and at Arizona Feb. 24 (16 points, 11 rebounds). Osborne has scored 10+ points in 19 of 20 games she has played this season, and Thomas has reached double figures in 17 of UCLA's last 19 contests and in 20 games total. Thomas has led UCLA in rebounding in six of the last seven contests, including four in a row. She now ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage, shooting at a 53.8% clip. 

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 fifth in the Pac-12 with 15.5 points per game and fourth in field goal percentage (53.8%). She has been on fire over the last week, averaging 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 59.4% from the field in her last three games, which include a 20-point outing against Utah (Feb. 20) and a double-double (16 points/11 rebounds) at Arizona (Feb. 24). 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 2,282 points, 1,006 rebounds and 297 assists. 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