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Bruins Head to Wyoming for WNIT Third Round

Mar 22, 2022
Chantel Horvat

UCLA (16-12) at Wyoming (17-12)
Date: Thursday, Mar. 24, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m. MT / 5:30 p.m. PT
Location: Laramie, Wyo. (Arena-Auditorium)
Watch: Mountain West Network
Radio talent: Dave Marcus

Thursday's matchup between UCLA and Wyoming will be just the second all-time meeting for the programs, with the Bruins securing a victory over the Cowgirls in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Wyoming enters the contest at 17-12 overall, having won five of its last six contests. Most recently, the Cowgirls defeated Tulsa in triple overtime. Wyoming scored a season-high 97 points, with Quinn Weidemann and Allyson Fertig contributing 23 and 22 points, respectively. McKinley Bradshaw and Alba Sanchez Ramos both put up 19 points in the win. Bradshaw, a 5-11 guard from Lyman, Wyo. is the team's leading scorer with 16.9 points per game and has a pair of 30+ point performances to her credit this season.

LAST TIME OUT - UCLA vs. Wyoming (Mar. 22, 2021)
UCLA last faced Wyoming in first round of the NCAA Tournament, as the Bruins picked up a 69-48 win to advance. Michaela Onyenwere scored a game-high 25 points, Charisma Osborne posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Natalie Chou added 15 points. Onyenwere was 9-for-17 from the field, making all six of her free throws and adding seven rebounds. Osborne, who tied a season high in rebounds, was 6-of-10 with four assists, while Chou made three from beyond the arc and added six boards. Lauryn Miller had seven rebounds and six points, Emily Bessoir notched eight rebounds and four points and Lindsey Corsaro added four points. The Bruins (17-5) shot 42.6 percent from the field.

LAST TIME OUT - WNIT Third Round (Mar. 27, 2015)
The Bruins took on Northern Colorado in third round of the 2015, a game that saw UCLA earn a 74-60 victory at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. UCLA finished shooting 47.3% (26-for-55) while limiting Northern Colorado to 40.3% (25-for-62) for the game. Nirra Fields ended the contest with a team-high 26 points, marking her third-straight WNIT contest with 20-plus points. Canada finished with 14 points and was joined by Korver's 11 points to complete the Bruin trio in double figures. Billings had a solid outing of six points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. The Bears were led by Stephanie Lee's game-high 31points (13-for-23 from the field). D'Shara Strange was the only other UNC player to score in double digits with 12 points, just missing a double-double with nine boards. 

GAME RECAP: UCLA vs. Air Force (Mar. 20)
The UCLA women's basketball team led by as many as 23 points en route to a berth in the WNIT third round, defeating Air Force by a 61-45 score Sunday at Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom. IImar'I Thomas scored a game-high 17 points for the Bruins. Charisma Osborne added 13 points, while Angela Dugalic provided 11 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals off the bench. Haley Jones led the Falcons (19-14) with 10 points. She also registered a game-high 12 rebounds. Sunday's meeting was the first between the programs. The Bruins controlled the paint on both sides of the floor, piling up 38 points down low offensively and blocking 10 shots at the other end.

UCLA won the WNIT in 2015 in its first and only tournament appearance. The Bruins finished the regular season with a 13-18 record but earned the Pac-12's automatic qualifying spot in the tournament. In the first round, UCLA defeated CSU Bakersfield, 70-54, at home and then beat San Diego on the road, 63–58. The Bruins hosted third round and round of 16 games, taking a 74-60 victory over Northern Colorado and an 82-66 win over Saint Mary's. UCLA continued its winning ways in the semifinals, beating Michigan on the road, 69-65, to advance to the championship game in West Virginia. Freshman point guard Jordin Canada dominated in the championship game, scoring 31 points to lead the Bruins to a 62-60 victory. With the Bruins up by just one with under a minute to play, Canada scored on a layup at the 25-second mark and then sealed the win with a steal and two ensuing free throws with 19 seconds remaining.         
Along with UCLA coaches Cori Close, Shannon LeBeauf and Tony Newnan, graduate guard Jaelynn Penn also has a WNIT Championship to her credit, winning in 2018 as a freshman at Indiana. Penn started for the Hoosiers in the championship game, recording a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds in Indiana's 65-57 victory over Virginia Tech.  
• UCLA has two players ranked in the Top 5 in scoring in the Pac-12 (No. 4 Charisma Osborne - 15.9 and  No. 5 IImar'I Thomas - 15.5). No other school has more than one player in the Top 5.
• Charisma Osborne has recorded multiple assists in 19-straight games.
• The Bruins have won five of their last six games, the first 5-1 stretch of their season thus far.
• Thomas has led the Bruins in rebounding in seven of the last 12 games and has recorded three double-doubles across that stretch, including a 13-point, 12-rebound performance in UCLA's win over UC Irvine (Mar. 18).
• Angela Dugalic recorded her first career double-double in the Pac-12 Tournament First Round, grabbing career-highs in points (13) and rebounds (12) in the win over USC. Dugalic's point total matched her previous career-high, set last year against UCLA when she was a member of the Oregon Ducks.
• IImar'I Thomas has scored in double figures in each of her last eight games.
• UCLA has held its opponent under 70 points in 11 of the last 12 games and is 16-4 this season when doing so this season.

Two players who started the calendar year on the injured list have returned in the past month to play solid minutes for the Bruins. Forward Angela Dugalic, a transfer from Oregon, made her first Bruin appearance on Feb. 11 at Washington State, playing 16 minutes and grabbing four 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 had a breakthrough game against USC in the Pac-12 Tournament, recording her first career double-double with career-best numbers of 13 points and 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes of play. In 11 games, Dugalic is averaging 17.6 minutes, 6.5 points, and 4.8 rebounds per game. Junior guard Camryn Brown returned on Jan. 30 at Oregon State after her ACL injury suffere,d at the end of 2020-21 and has played in 13 games, with four starts. 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 eight games. She had started the season's first 11 games prior to her injury.

Incoming freshman Kiki Rice was named the Gatorade Nationa Player of the Year this past Thursday. The signee also took home Gatorade State Player of the Year honors for the District of Columbia. WNBA legend Sue Bird presented Rice with the honor over Zoom. Rice led Sidwell Friends to a perfect 28-0 record this past season, putting up 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists. The McDonald's All-American is the No. 2-ranked player and No. 1-ranked point guard in espnW's Class of 2022. She is a two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball and earned District of Columbia Player of the Year honors in both basketball and soccer. She averaged 18.8 points per game at the Nike Girls EYBL last summer.

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, UCLA's first-ever Naismith Girls Player of the Year, is the highest-ranked recruit in UCLA WBB history. She and Gabriela Jaquez, the sister of UCLA Men's Basketball star Jaime Jaquez Jr., were both named to the McDonald's All-America team. 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 fifth in the Pac-12 with 15.5 points per game and put up her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds against UC Irvine in the first round of the WNIT (Mar. 18). She has scored in double figures in 25 of her 28 games this season, including each of the last seven. 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. 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.

2021 WNBA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Michaela Onyenwere
After a 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.

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 ppg 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.
• Kari Korver ('17) finished her second season as Director of Operations for the Los Angeles Sparks.

UCLA alumnae have a strong presence playing professionally overseas. Here is a rundown of the program's current professionals and the teams they played for this past season:
• 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