March 5, 2008
FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (9-18 overall, 7-8 in the Big West Conference) closes out its 2007-08 regular season schedule at home on Saturday evening (March 8) as the Titans host UC Irvine at 5 p.m. at Titan Gym.
THANKS: Prior to Saturday night's tip, Fullerton senior Alison Bennett will be honored as part of "Senior Night" festivities prior to tip-off with the Anteaters. Over her four-year career, Bennett is averaging 2.1 ppg an 2.3 rpg in her career, but has experienced a break-out senior season - starting all 27 games and averaging 4.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg this season. Her 114 points scored and 132 rebounds this season are career high's.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Audio for this week's game will be broadcast over the Internet via Cal State Fullerton's official athletics website at FullertonTitans.com. Todd Reeves will handle the play-by-play courtside from Titan Gym.
CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?: 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.
SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton trails by a narrow margin in the all-time series with UC Irvine, 28-26, but the Titans have won the last four straight with the Anteaters - including a 69-66 victory earlier this year at the Bren Events Center to open Big West Conference play... The Titans are 13-10 all-time at home against the Anteaters... Fullerton has won the last two straight at home against UCI after losing eight straight from 1998-2005... Five of the last eight meetings have been decided by 10 points or fewer.
A LOOK AT THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine enters the week with a 7-22 overall record and a 3-12 mark in Big West play to clinch eighth place and a spot in the conference tournament... UCI split its two games last weekend, falling to Long Beach State (59-53) and defeating Cal State Northridge (65-61)... The Anteaters snapped a six-game losing streak with the win over the Matadors but have won just three times in the last 21 games... Stephanie Duda leads the team offensively at 12.4 ppg and paces the Big West Conference on the boards at 10.2 rpg... Kelly Cochran is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 ppg and is shooting a team-high .463 from the field while blocking 26 shots.
LAST TIME VS. IRVINE: Sophomore Jasmine Scott's three pointer snapped a 58-58 tie to give Cal State Fullerton the lead for good and the visiting Titans held tough down the stretch, snapping its nine-game losing streak with a thrilling 69-66 victory. Three Titans finished with a game-high 16 points on the night as junior Toni Thomas and freshmen Lauren Chow and Ashley Richie all accomplished the feat. Senior Allison Bennett led the team with eight rebounds on the night to go with six points. Rebecca Maessen's game-tying three-point attempt from the left elbow drew back iron as time expired after the Anteaters gained the ball on an alternating possession following a jump ball with 17 seconds remaining - UCI's only shot on the final possession of the game. Scott's three-pointer with 9:47 remaining came with Thomas on the bench with four fouls after the Anteaters used an 8-2 run capped by a three-point play by Duda to battle back from a six point deficit with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Titans then clamped down on both ends of the court, answering each Irvine bucket and never letting the Anteaters to get any closer than a single point.
SHE DOUBLE-DOUBLE DOG DARES YOU: Junior Toni Thomas' 26-point, 10-rebound effort last weekend against Cal State Northridge marked her second consecutive double-double and her third in the last five games. She is tied for fourth in the Big West in that category this season and has 19 double-doubles for her career. Last Saturday marked the 27th time she has scored 20-or-more points in a game and the 20th double-digit rebound game of her career.
HOWEVER...: Fullerton is just 1-3 this season in games that Thomas has achieved a double-double.
BIG WEST TOURNEY PICTURE: The top and the bottom of the 2008 Big West Tournament bracket has been filled in, but the middle of the pack is still a little muddy heading into the final weekend of the season. UC Santa Barbara has earned the top seed by virtue of winning its 12th Big West regular season title in the last 13 years. UC Irvine clinched the No. 8 seed after defeating Cal State Northridge last weekend. Fullerton currently sits in sixth place, just a game behind Pacific for the No. 4 spot and a half a game ahead of Long Beach State in the seventh spot. If the Tigers defeat UC Riverside, they would claim the No. 4 spot and a first-round bye while fifth-place Cal Poly needs a pair of wins and a Pacific loss for the No. 4 spot. If all four teams finish 8-8, Long Beach State would vault over them all and claim the fourth seed.
CONFERENCE ROOM: If Cal State Fullerton defeats UC Irvine on Saturday to finish 8-8 in league play, the Titans will have posted the most wins in conference play since the 2003-04 team finished 8-10.
WINS, WINS, AND MORE WINS: Should the Titans topple the Anteaters, Fullerton would also finish with double-digit wins for the third consecutive year - the longest such stretch since the program went 12 consecutive years with 10-or-more wins from 1980-92.
SCORING RACE DOWN TO THE WIRE: With only one weekend remaining in the regular season and the Big West Conference Tournament looming on the horizon, Fullerton's Toni Thomas continues to hold the top spot in the Big West Conference scoring race, leading UC Davis' Jessica Campbell by just 2.3 points per game (17.1-14.8 ppg) entering this week's games. Should Thomas repeat as the conference's scoring champion in 2008, she would become only the fourth player in league history to lead the conference in scoring in back-to-back seasons and the first since Idaho's Emily Faurholt accomplished the feat in 2004-05. Other Big West players to do so: Long Beach State's Cindy Brown (1986-87) and Hawaii's Judy Mosley (1989-90).
`500': Thomas also stands just 37 points shy of reaching 500 points in a season for the second consecutive year. Among the program's 1,000-point scorers, Thomas would become only the third Titan to accomplish that feat, joining all-time leading scorer Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (three times from 1988-91) and Claudette Jackson (who did it in both of her seasons as a Titan from 1990-92).
A WIN IS A WIN... : Fullerton's 55 points in last weekend's win over Cal State Northridge was the fewest points scored in a win for the Titans since they had 53 in a victory over Nevada on Dec. 6, 2005. The Titans and Matadors have played a pair of defensive battles this season as Fullerton is averaging just 57.0 ppg and shooting .355 from the field to CSUN's 50.0 ppg and .342 shooting percentage in the two meetings.
THOMAS FOR MVP: Cal State Fullerton junior Toni Thomas is making a strong case for conference Player of the Year honors, ranking among the league's finest in eight different categories: scoring (1st), rebounding (2nd), field goal percentage (3rd), free throw percentage (4th), blocked shots (9th), offensive rebounds (2nd), defensive rebounds (5th), and minutes played (5th).
TREMENDOUS TRIO: Cal State Fullerton is the only school in the Big West Conference entering this week's games that has three players ranked among the league's top 15 scorers. Toni Thomas is first in the Big West at 17.1 ppg, Lauren Chow is 10th at 12.3 ppg, and Ashley Richie is No. 15 at 10.8 ppg.
MORE ON THE TRIO: All three of the above players also rank among the league's top scorers in Big West Conference games only as Thomas leads the league at 16.2 ppg followed by Richie in sixth place at 13.2 ppg and Chow in the No. 13 spot at 11.7 ppg.
STEALING IS GOOD: But only in basketball, kids. Cal State Fullerton swiped 15 steals last weekend against Cal State Northridge to tie a season high set two other times (vs. USC and at home against Pacific) this year. Toni Thomas led all players with five steals on the night against the Matadors while Ashley Richie was responsible for four more. The team total helped push Fullerton's average to 9.33 steals per game this season - an average that ranks second in the Big West Conference entering the week.
DON'T FOUL HER: Thomas ranks fourth in the Big West Conference in free throw percentage (.795), and leads the league in free throws made (136), and free throws attempted (171). If her season ended today, her percentage would rank tied for sixth on the school's single-season chart while the makes would rank 7th and the attempts 10th.
CHOW SETS FRESHMAN MARK: Cal State Fullerton rookie guard Lauren Chow has etched her name into the record books, setting a new school rookie records for three-pointers made (68) and attempted (193), breaking Charlee Underwood's previous marks of 43 and 131, respectively, set during the 2003-04 season.
SHOOTER!!!: Opposing defenses better start getting a hand in Lauren Chow's face when the freshman pulls up to shoot. Chow ranks second in the league in three-point percentage (.352) entering this week's games and continues to lead the league in three-pointers made per game (2.52 pg) and three-pointers made overall (68). Almost two-thirds of her field goal attempts (63.7%) this season have come from behind the arc (193-of-303) and Chow is almost shooting the same from three-point range (.352) as she is from the field overall (.356) this season.
DISHIN' WITH DAY: Junior guard Daviyonne Weathersby has done a tremendous job quarterbacking the Fullerton offense this season, ranking a close third in the league with 3.56 assists per game and notching five or more assists in a game eight times this season. Over her last 10 games, Weathersby is averaging 4.50 apg, including amassing a career-high seven helpers against Pacific on Feb. 14. She has led or co-led the team in assists in six of the team's last eight games and a team-high 16 times overall this season.
THOMAS FIVE POINTS SHY OF SEVENTH: Toni Thomas needs just five more points to match Charlee Underwood's career total of 1,382 points that ranks seventh on the school's all-time scoring list. With 18 more points, Thomas would also become the seventh player to reach the 1,400-point plateau and only the third to do so in three seasons, joining Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (1,446 points after her junior year) and Nancy Ratliff (1,580 points after her junior season).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: With the Big West Conference season winding down, freshman guard Lauren Chow continues to make a stellar case for league freshman of the year honors. The Titans' rookie ranks No. 10 in the Big West Conference in scoring and is one of only three underclassmen (one of the others being her teammate Ashley Richie) to rank among the league's top 15 scorers this week. She also stands among the league's best in assists (7th), three-point percentage (2nd), three-pointers made (1st), and assist-to-turnover ratio (5th). Her .810 free throw percentage would also rank four, but she does not meet the league minimum of 2.0 free throws made per team game to qualify.
WINDEX WOMEN: For the first 16 games of the year, Cal State Fullerton just could not find a way to keep the other team off the boards, being outrebounded in each game. However, it seems the tables have turned as the Titans have found a way to grab more boards than the opposition in eight of their last 11 games, posting a 6-5 mark in those contests.
CLOSE OR NO CIGAR: Cal State Fullerton has experienced both extremes in its 18 losses this season as nine of the Titans losses have come by 18 points or more with the other nine losses of 10 points or less.