Titans Look to Turn Over New Leaf in 2008 as Big West Play Opens

Jan. 3, 2008

FULLERTON, CA - A new year and hopes for a new beginning for the Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (1-10 overall) start this weekend as the Titans open Big West Conference play on the road at UC Irvine. The two Orange County rivals meet on Friday night (Jan. 4) at 7 p.m. at the Bren Events Center on the campus of UCI.

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CATCH THE GAME: Friday night's contest at UC Irvine will be broadcast live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com. Todd Reeves and Patrick Alog will handle the broadcast from the Bren Center. Live video streaming for all home games and all Big West Conference contests will be available on a subscription basis by logging on to the league's website at www.bigwest.org/tv.

THOMAS EARNS SHARE OF BIG WEST WEEKLY HONORS: Cal State Fullerton junior forward Toni Thomas was named the Big West Conference Co-Player of the Week on Wednesday morning after a big scoring night last week. Thomas netted a game-high 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting in Fullerton's last-second, 71-70, loss to Saint Mary's on Dec. 29. It is the first weekly honor from the conference office this season for a Titan player and Thomas' fourth career weekly honor.

FOR OPENERS... BIG WEST STYLE: Cal State Fullerton is 7-15 all-time in Big West Conference openers dating back to the 1985-86 season, winning three of its last five... the Titans defeated Cal Poly at home last season, 64-49, behind 19 points from Charlee Underwood, who led two other teammates in double figures... Fullerton is just 3-9 when opening conference play on the road... The Titans last opened league play against the Anteaters in the 2001-02 season, falling to UCI, 73-61, at home on Jan. 3... Fullerton and UC Irvine also met in the 1995 league opener - an 82-73 overtime loss by the Titans.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton trails in the all-time series with UC Irvine, 28-25, posting a 10-16 all-time mark in road contests against the Anteaters... The Titans have won the last three consecutive meetings in the series, however, including a series sweep last season with a 76-62 home win and a 77-59 victory in Irvine... Fullerton is just 2-12 against UCI in south county since 1994, snapping a 10-game losing streak with a 59-50 win in 2004.

ABOUT THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine enters the weekend with a 4-9 overall record and will also meet San Diego on Sunday... The Anteaters have lost their last five straight contests, including a pair at the Bank of Hawaii Invitational in Honolulu last weekend... senior forward Stephanie Duda leads the team offensively at 13.4 ppg and leads the Big West Conference at 10.6 rpg... sophomore forward Kelly Cochran is also in double figures at 11.2 ppg and leads all regulars with a .463 field goal percentage... Cochran is also the team's second-best rebounder at 6.9 rpg.

TONI'S STREAK HALTED: Finally an opponent figured out how to stop Toni Thomas. Fullerton's junior scoring juggernaut saw her double-digit scoring streak halted at 31 games in the Titans' New Year's Eve loss to Santa Clara as the Broncos held Thomas to only eight points and two field goal attempts in 25 minutes. It was a season-low output for Thomas and her worst offensive performance since being held to just two points against San Diego on Dec. 16, 2006, in the game prior to the start of the streak.

MOVIN' ON UP: Thanks to her 37 points this past weekend against Saint Mary's and Santa Clara, Thomas leapfrogged over five Titan greats and moved into sole possession of No. 11 on the school's all-time scoring list, just 50 points shy of Cheryl Peterson's (1978-81) 1,163 career points and the No. 10 position. Thomas currently has 1,113 career points in her two-plus seasons.

RICHIE CASHES IN: After being held to only five points in her previous two games, freshman Ashley Richie exploded for a career-high 15 points off the bench in the Titans' loss to Santa Clara. Richie, who had scored in double figures in five consecutive games from Nov. 22-Dec. 16, is the team's third-leading scorer and is averaging 11.3 ppg over the course of the last seven games.

THREEEEE-CO-LA: The Titans' sharpshooters were on target in last Saturday's game at Saint Mary's, nailing a season high-tying eight three-pointers and setting a season-high with a .533 (8-of-15) percentage in the narrow, 71-70, defeat. Junior Toni Thomas set a career high with four three-pointers in the effort while freshman Lauren Chow hit on 4-of-8 from long distance. The Titans last hit eight three-pointers this season against USC on Nov. 30 and were the most since they hit 10-of-25 against Cal State Northridge in the second round of last year's Big West Conference tournament.

A STREAK BEGINS ANEW: After three games without reaching the free throw line, freshman guard Lauren Chow has returned to her league-leading form, hitting her last five consecutive free throws dating back to the USC game on Nov. 30 to increase her Big West-leading percentage to .957 (22-for-23). Chow, who hit 17 consecutive free throws to start her Division I career, hit a league single-game best 11-for-11 in a home victory over San Jose State back on Nov. 17.

PRESENTED BY AT&T: If it were legal in the NCAA's eyes to have players sponsored by companies, AT&T or some of the other national long distance carriers might want to look into Lauren Chow on a poster or something. Chow, who also stands among national leaders in both of the following categories, is second in the Big West Conference with a .418 three-point percentage (28-of-67) and leads the league at 2.55 three-pointers made per game. Her 28 three-pointers made overall also lead all players in the Big West this season.

IN CONTROL: Despite losing their last nine in a row, the Titans have done a good job of not shooting themselves in the foot, ranking third in the league with 19.5 turnovers per game and 214 turnovers overall to stand behind only UC Riverside (187/17.0 pg) and UC Davis (210/17.5 pg).

BUILDING ON BLOCKS: Toni Thomas has accounted for almost two-thirds of the team's blocks this season, leading the team and ranking fifth in the league with 0.73 blocks per game this season. Her eight blocks this year give her 36 for her career - just one shy of breaking into the school's all-time top 10 and two short of tying Shayla Bradshaw (1992-96) for ninth place.

MILESTONE REACHED: After only 64 career games in a Titan uniform, Thomas became the 17th player in the history of the program to reach 1,000 career points against UTEP on Nov. 23, scoring 32 points to push her, not only past the milestone barrier, but also into 16th place on the all-time scoring chart with 1,009 career points, passing Joey Ray (1988-92), who had 1,004 points during her standout four-year career as a Titan.

QUICKLY NOW: Thomas became only the ninth player in program history to reach the 1,000-career points plateau in her first three seasons and the fastest since Claudette Jackson (1990-92) accomplished the feat in just two years - a span of 61 total games - after transferring from Golden West College in nearby Huntington Beach, Calif.

MILESTONE REACHED (PART II): With her six rebounds on Sunday at San Diego State, junior forward Toni Thomas became only the 10th player in the history of the program to score at least 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in their careers. She is the third player in as many seasons to accomplish the feat joining Amber Pruitt (1,078 points/580 rebounds) in 2006 and Charlee Underwood (1,382/630) in 2007. Other members of the club include Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (2,415/1,162), Nancy Ratliff (1,580/554), Nancy Dunkle (1,559/729), Meg Gallagher (1,421/675), Marlene Kline (1,260/531), Claudette Jackson (1,100/536), and Terri Withers (1,078/805).

DE TUBOLY DEBUTS: Cal State Fullerton redshirt freshman Sarah de Tuboly, the tallest player in the history of the program at 6-foot-5, made her Division I debut last Monday against Santa Clara, grabbing a rebound and dishing out an assist in just under a minute of play. With her appearance, all 15 active players on this year's roster have now appeared in at least one game.

BENNETT HITTING THE BOARDS: As the only senior active on the this year's roster, Alison Bennett is looking to close out her collegiate career with a bang - and she's been doing so on the boards for the Titans. Over the team's last five games, Bennett has led the team with 7.0 rpg, including a career-high 12 boards against Pepperdine on Dec. 7. Her 30 total rebounds in that span have accounted for almost one-quarter of the 128 accounted for by other Titan players.

SWIPER NO SWIPING: Nobody told the Titans that stealing was a crime. As a result, Cal State Fullerton is one of the nation's most adept teams at taking the ball away, ranking No. 45 in the NCAA as of Dec. 16 and standing second in the Big West Conference thus far this season with 10.91 steals per game. Two Titans rank among the league's best thieves, as Chow is second with 2.73 spg and freshman Ashley Richie stands third at 2.09 spg.

SPEAKING OF STEALING: Chow has registered at least two steals in every game for the Titans but two (vs. USC and at Santa Clara) and has at least four steals in five of the team's 11 games this season - including a career high five swipes in a loss to San Diego on Dec. 21. That has translated into beaucoup points for the speedy guard, who is averaging 19.0 ppg when she has at least four steals in a game this season.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?: With the start of the Big West Conference season on the horizon, freshman guard Lauren Chow is making a stellar case for league freshman of the year honors. The Titans' rookie continues to rank among the top five in the Big West Conference in scoring and is the only underclassman to rank among the league's top 15 scorers this week. She also stands among the league's best in field goal percentage (10th), assists (3rd), free throw percentage (1st), steals (2nd), three-point percentage (2nd), three-pointers made (1st), and assist-to-turnover ratio (4th).