March 11, 2009
Anaheim, Calif. - Toni Thomas scored 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds and Daviyonne Weathersby had five steals that led to four layups Wednesday afternoon to lead Cal State Fullerton to a 61-43 victory over UC Irvine in the opening round of the Big West Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center.
No. 7-seeded UCI saw its season end at 7-23. Kelly Cochran was the only Anteater in double figures with 12 points, all in the second half. She also led UCI with 6 rebounds.
"We were just hoping to win to play another day," said CSF Head Coach Maryalyce Jeremiah, who is coaching her final season at Fullerton.
"We've been trying to get some rhythm back from how we were playing early in the season. Today, we played that way and had even scoring. We didn't play two halves, but we had a big enough lead at the half."
Fullerton and Pacific split their two regular season meetings with each team winning at home.
Fullerton avenged a 67-59 loss at Irvine on Saturday night. Center Kim Barnes led UCI in that game with 18 points but Wednesday she scored only four and had only 2 rebounds.
"Our whole defensive game plan changed from Saturday," said Thomas. "Our coaches did a real good job and we didn't do what we did Saturday. It was a complete change."
"We played Toni and Jenna Breite, who is a good rebounder and defender, at the same time today, which is something we don't usually do," said Jeremiah.
Fullerton's biggest lead was 29 points at 54-25 with 11 minutes left. UCI made the score more respectable with a 10-0 run over a 5-minute span late in the second half. Richardson stopped the spurt with a 3-pointer that made it 59-37 with 4:05 to play.
The Titans came roaring out of the blocks to open the game. Thomas scored the first 5 points for a 5-1 lead. Richardson and Chow each had 7 points in a 14-4 surge that made it 19-5 with 13:25 to go in the half. The teams exchanged buckets until Fullerton turned a 25-12 lead into a 37-12 advantage with a 12-0 run fueled by three Weathersby steals that led to layups, two herself and one by Thomas.
"I was anticipating those passes," said Weathersby. "We just played them so their plays were fresh in my mind."
UC Irvine went almost 9 minutes without scoring and had more turnovers (18) than points (15) at halftime. UCI made only 5 of 19 shots (.263) while the Titans were 15-for-28 (.536) on their way to their second largest halftime lead of the season (52-27 at Saint Mary's on Nov. 21). The previous low opponent first-half point total was 19 by Santa Clara on Nov. 14.
Fullerton ended up shooting 47 percent for the game while UCI improved slightly in the second half to finish at 33 percent. UCI made only 4 turnovers in the second half.