UCLA to Host UC Irvine Friday in WNIT First Round
The UCLA women's basketball team will host UC Irvine in the first round of the Women's NIT on Friday, March 18 at 7pm in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. Tickets for the first round game will go on sale to the public on Tuesday at uclabruins.com/tickets.
The winner of the UCLA-UC Irvine game will face the winner of Thursday's Air Force vs. San Francisco matchup in the second round.
The Bruins (14-12) earned an automatic qualifying bid for the Pac-12 Conference and are playing in their seventh consecutive postseason and second WNIT. UCLA was a NCAA Tournament participant in five-straight tournaments from 2017-21 and the WNIT champion in 2015.
The Bruins finished the regular season with a No. 41 NET ranking. After battling through injuries most of the season, UCLA won three of its last four games, including an 18-point win at then-No. 12 Arizona to snap the Wildcats' 16-game home winning streak. UCLA advanced to the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, where they lost by three points to No. 2 seed Oregon.
UCLA is led by a pair of all-conference team members - Charisma Osborne and IImar'I Thomas. Osborne, a two-time All-Pac-12 honoree, ranks third in the conference in scoring (16.4 average) and free throw percentage (86.3%) and fourth in three-point field goals made (54). Thomas ranks fifth in scoring (15.6 average) and is also fourth in field goal percentage (54.0%). Also averaging in double-figures for UCLA is Jaelynn Penn, who has a 10.7 points per game average. Penn won a WNIT title in 2018 as a freshman at Indiana University, recording a double-double in the championship game with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
UC Irvine (21-11) received an automatic qualifying bid for the Big West Conference after finishing second with a 14-4 conference record. The Anteaters also finished second in the conference tournament, losing in the championship game to Hawai'i, 59-48. UC Irvine is led by guard Kayla Williams, who is averaging 15.5 points and 4.2 assists per game. Williams was the 2021 Big West Freshman of the Year.