No. 6-Seeded Titans Head to Big West Tournament
March 10, 2009
FULLERTON, CA -
TIP OFF: The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (8-19 overall, 5-11 in the Big West Conference) begins its quest for an NCAA Tournament berth this week as the Titans head to the Anaheim Convention Center for the 26th annual Big West Conference women's basketball tournament. The tournament begins on Wednesday at 12 p.m. with No. 5 UC Davis taking on No. 8 Cal State Northridge with No. 6 Cal State Fullerton meeting No. 7 UC Irvine at approximately 2:30 p.m.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Every game of this week's Big West Conference tournament will be broadcast live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. Patrick Alog will have the call live from The Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center.
I SEE YOU: For the third consecutive season, video for every game of the 2009 Big West Conference women's basketball tournament will be streamed live over the Internet (on a subscription basis) thanks to Big West TV. Watch as the conference's best try to punch their tickets for the NCAA Tournament. For more information, please log on to www.BigWest.org/TV.
I NEED THAT STAT!: Gametracker live stats will be available for free for every game of the 2009 Big West Conference tournament. Links to the live play-by-play will be posted on the women's basketball schedule page at FullertonTitans.com or the "Tourney Tracker" graphic at the top of the main webpage or the women's basketball page.
TOURNEY AT-A-GLANCE: UC Santa Barbara (20-9, 15-1) won the Big West regular season championship and earned the tournament's top seed for 2009... UC Riverside (19-10, 14-2) is the No. 2 seed and earned an automatic berth into the semifinals alongside the Gauchos... Cal Poly (19-10, 11-5) is the No. 3 seed and will take on the lowest remaining seeded team on Thursday at 12 p.m... Pacific (14-15, 8-8) is the No. 4 seed and will meet the highest remaining seed on Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
TITANS IN THE TOURNEY: Cal State Fullerton will be making its eighth consecutive appearance in the Big West Conference tournament and its 19th overall berth since the 1985-86 season. The Titans are 11-19 (.367) all-time in the conference tournament, having won at least one game in each of the last two seasons. Head Coach Dr. Maryalyce Jeremiah is 9-12 at the Big West tournament at the helm of the Cal State Fullerton program. The Titans are 1-2 all-time against Long Beach State in tournament play, 1-5 against UC Santa Barbara, 1-2 against UC Riverside, and 1-1 against both Pacific and Cal State Northridge.
"HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH?": Despite the Anaheim Convention Center's proximity to Disneyland, being right across the street from the "Happiest Place on Earth" has not benefitted the Titans very much in recent years. Cal State Fullerton is just 4-8 (.333) in Big West Tournament games played in Anaheim, Calif.
SO, WE MEET AGAIN: Wednesday's first round match-up with the Anteaters will be a rematch of the regular season finale for both teams held just four days earlier and won by UC Irvine, 67-59, at the Bren Events Center. The Titans are 1-2 against the Anteaters in Big West Conference Tournament play, posting a 48-47 victory in the first round in 1988 in Long Beach before falling in the last two meetings: losing 73-66 in the first round in Las Vegas in 1994, and suffering a 69-67 loss at UNLV in the 1995 semifinal round.
SCOUTING THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine concluded its regular season with a 7-22 overall record and a 4-12 mark in conference play to finish in a three-way tie for seventh place... The Anteaters earned the No. 7 seed due to their 3-1 record against both Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State... Rebecca Maessen leads the offense, averaging 12.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and standing second on the team with 57 assists... Mary Has is second on the team with 12.1 ppg and is the leading rebounder at 5.5 rpg... UCI is averaging just 49.7 ppg as a team while giving up 62.6 ppg.
THE SERIES: The all-time series between the two schools is tied at 28-28 following UC Irvine's win last week... The Anteaters' victory snapped a seven-game winning streak in favor of the Titans and a two-game win streak by Fullerton on UCI's home floor.
DON'T GET CAUGHT LOOKING AHEAD: The players won't, so we'll do it for them. A Fullerton victory over UC Irvine coupled with a win by fifth-seeded UC Davis will earn the Titans a date with No. 3 Cal Poly on Thursday afternoon at 12 p.m. Fullerton split its regular season series with the Mustangs, posting a 67-53 victory at home on Jan. 8 while falling, 72-61, at Mott Gym on Feb. 7. A win and a loss by the Aggies in the first round would pit the Titans against No. 4 Pacific, a team against which they also split the season series, falling 72-66 in Stockton on Jan. 17 and winning 62-51 on Feb. 12 at Titan Gym. A win there gives Cal State Fullerton a date in the semifinals against one of the top two seeds in UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside - both of which swept the two-game regular season series from the Titans.
THOMAS MAKES ITS FOUR: Senior Toni Thomas became the first player in Cal State Fullerton women's basketball history to earn four All-Big West Conference honors after gaining a spot on the league's second team in a vote of the conference's head coaches released on Monday. Thomas earned a second team nod as a freshman before landing first-team honors as both a sophomore and junior. Only former All-American Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (three first-team honors) and Shayla Bradshaw (two second-team honors and an honorable mention nod) had been honored three times prior to Thomas.
RICHARDSON NAMED TO ALL-FRESHMAN SQUAD: Cal State Fullerton freshman Megan Richardson became the 14th Titan to be named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team - the second most in the history of the league behind UC Santa Barbara (20). Richardson, who finished the regular season second on the team in scoring at 10.7 ppg, stood as the only freshman to rank among the league's top 15 scorers and becomes the fourth Titan in the last four seasons to be honored with a spot on the all-freshman team, joining Thomas (2005-06), Lauren Chow (2007-08), and Ashley Richie (2007-08).
THOMAS MOVES INTO SECOND PLACE: With her 14 points against UC Irvine in the team's regular season finale, senior Toni Thomas took over sole possession of second place on the school's all-time scoring list, passing Robin Holmes (1982-86) and Shayla Bradshaw (1992-96), who ranked third and second, respectively. Thomas, who enters the tournament with 1,744 career points, now stands behind only the great Eugenia Miller Rycraw (1987-91) on Fullerton's all-time scoring list and ranks fourth among both the top men's and women's basketball scorers in school history behind only Miller-Rycraw (2,415), Bobby Brown (1,961), and Leon Wood (1,876).
MIGHTY MEGAN: Freshman Megan Richardson closed out the 2009 regular season on a bit of a roll, averaging 16.0 points per game over her last three regular season contests while shooting 41 percent from the field and a blistering .526 (10-for-19) from beyond the arc.
MEGAN DIALING LONG DISTANCE: Thanks to that blistering performance from behind the arc during her recent hot streak, Richardson debuted among the top 10 three-point shooters in the league entering the conference tournament. Her .400 (32-for-80) performance this season has her second in the conference behind Cal Poly's Lisa McBride (53-for-122, .434) while her 32 three-pointers made rank her just outside the top 10 where her teammate, Lauren Chow, ranks third in the conference with 53 three-pointers made (and 1.96 made per game) this season.
Lauren Chow - THE GUARD THAT KEEPS ON GIVING: Sophomore Lauren Chow enters the week as one of the league's top playmakers, ranking sixth in the league with 3.19 assists per game and sixth with 86 assists overall this season. She has also done well to take care of the ball herself, ranking third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.43 (86 assists to 60 turnovers) - one of only six conference regulars to have more assists than miscues thus far this season.
SULTAN OF STEAL: Keep your eye on the ball or senior Daviyonne Weathersby just might make it disappear. Weathersby continues to rank second in the Big West Conference with 2.19 steals per game and is tied for sixth overall with 49 swipes on the year. She has a steal in every game she has appeared in but two in 2008-09, including a season-high four steals in the season opener against Santa Clara and again against UC Davis on Feb. 14 and at Long Beach State on Feb. 28.
FOR DESSERT?: It's safe to say a basketball turnover probably wouldn't taste very good as a meal-ender, but on the court, it has been a sweet statistic for the Titans. Fullerton's defense has forced its opponents into 565 turnovers on the season (a league best 20.9 per game), turning them into 528 points for the "good gals" - an average of 19.6 ppg. The Titans have forced 20-or-more turnovers in 17 of their 27 contests this season with a pair of 19-turnover games to boot. On the other hand, the Titans have also done a great job of taking care of the ball themselves, committing only 435 turnovers (second fewest in the Big West) and ranking first in the league in turnover margin (+4.81) while notching 261 steals to rank second overall and tops in the league with 9.67 spg.
CHOW IN THE RECORD BOOKS AGAIN: Sophomore guard Lauren Chow has staked her claim to yet another Cal State Fullerton record despite having somewhat of an off year following her stellar freshman campaign. Chow, who already holds the school's freshman record for three-pointers made and attempted, is now the best sophomore sharpshooter in Titan history as her 53-for-175 (.303) performance beyond the arc this season set new records for three-pointers made and attempts, breaking Shayla Bradshaw's marks of 35 made and 114 attempted in 1993-94.
AND MORE...: Chow's 53 three-pointers made this season stand tied for sixth on the school's single-season chart while her 175 attempts are fourth. Last season, Chow ranked third on the single-season lists with 77 trey's made and 214 attempts.
MOVIN' ON UP: Chow's three-point exploits also have her moving up the Fullerton career charts as her 130 career three-pointers and 391 attempts rank sixth on the school's all-time lists while her .332 percentage in 57 career games ranks seventh entering the week. Almost two-thirds of Chow's career field goal attempts have come from beyond the arc (391-of-639) in her brief Titan career.
NO SUCH THING AS FREE POINTS?: Fullerton enters the tournament leading the Big West Conference in free throw shooting at .756, outpacing second-place UC Santa Barbara (.7557) by mere percentage points. The Titans have led the Big West in free throw percentage only three times in the 25-plus year history of the league, last accomplishing the feat in 2006-07 (.724). This year's performance at the line would also set a school record, besting the pervious mark of .725 (546-for-753) set in the 1990-91 season which also led the conference.
IS THERE A DOUBLE 1,000-POINT CLUB?: Senior Toni Thomas almost pulled off an unusual double this season, as she fell just 82 points shy of 1,000 career points in Big West Conference games for her career. Of her 1,744 career points, 918 of those came against league foes, accounting for just under 53 percent of her career total.
TITANS STRUGGLING TO "GO GREEN": Cal State Fullerton will have to find a way to harness the power of the sun in its quest for the NCAA Tournament as the Titans will have to play (and win) four day games this week to claim the Big West Conference's automatic berth. That has been a tall order for Fullerton this season, as it has gone just 2-12 in games played prior to 6 p.m with wins over UC Irvine on Jan. 3 and Long Beach State on Feb. 28. The Titans are 6-7 "under the lights" this season, averaging 62.6 ppg and shooting .371 (294-for-792) from the floor while hitting .288 (60-for-208) from three-point range. While averaging a smidge more points during the day (63.2 ppg), Fullerton is shooting just .356 (313-for-879) from the field and .265 (74-for-279) from three-point range.
GETTING OFFENSIVE: Despite struggling on the boards this season, the Titans have done well to give their third-ranked offense a chance to score some points as Cal State Fullerton enters the week ranked third in the league in offensive rebounds, averaging 14.44 per game. The Titans have outrebounded the opposition only six times in the team's 27 games this season, including a season-high 13 rebound margin at UC Irvine in the Big West opener for both teams.
THOMAS... FOR FREE: Senior Toni Thomas enters the Big West Tournament ranked second in the league in free throw percentage at .858, trailing only UC Santa Barbara's Lauren Pedersen (.868) for the top spot. Thomas, who has hit a league best 109 free throws in 127 attempts (second most in the Big West), ranks second all-time in school history in free throws made (480) and attempted (589) and, if the season ended today, holds the school record with a .815 free throw percentage for her career which would also rank third all-time in Big West history. Thomas' free throw percentage this season would be a single-season school record, breaking Shayla Bradshaw's previous mark of .833 in 1995-96, and, if she finishes the season atop the standings, would become only the third Titan to lead the league in free throw percentage, joining Bradshaw in 1996 and Allison Jackson in 1993.
STAY ON TARGET...: Sophomore Lyndsey Grove still continues to pace the Titans in field goal percentage this season, shooting just over 46 percent from the field entering this week's contests. Grove, who would rank fifth in the league had she met the league's minimum of 4.0 field goals made per team game, has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in 11 of her 26 games (including a string of five straight contests from Dec. 12 to Jan. 8) - including a season-best 8-for-10 performance from the field on the road at Pacific on Jan. 17.
SHE'S \#2! SHE'S \#2!: Senior forward Toni Thomas became only the third women's basketball player to surpass 800 rebounds, grabbing nine boards against UC Riverside on Jan. 31 to move past Terri Withers into second place on the school's all-time rebounding list behind career leader Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (1,162). Thomas, who now has 822 career rebounds and ranks ninth with a career average of 7.6 rebounds per game, is only the fourth player (men's or women's) in school history to reach that plateau, joining Miller-Rycraw, Withers, and the career leader for the Titans' men's program, Tony Neal, who grabbed 1,115 rebounds in his illustrious four-year career.
"FILL MY EYES WITH THAT DOUBLE-DOUBLE VISION...": No "Foreigner" to finding the basket, Toni Thomas' third straight double-double against Long Beach State on Jan. 29 moved her into a tie for third place on the school's all-time list with 26, matching Claudette Jackson's total from 1990-92. Thomas needs just nine more to match Erin Whiteside (1996-00) for second place and stand behind only career leader Eugenia Miller-Rycraw, who amassed 61 double-doubles in her brilliant four-year career with the Titans. The Cal State Fullerton sports information office would like to thank intern Nick Longo for his thorough scouring (and updating) of box scores dating back to the early 1980's for his help in compiling this list.
WIN BIG OR GO HOME: Six of Cal State Fullerton's eight victories this season have come by double digits, including a season-high 27-point victory over UC Irvine on Jan. 3 to ring in the New Year. The two single-digit wins were a three-point victory on the road at San Francisco on Dec. 10 and a nine-point win at Long Beach State on Feb. 28.
TITANS PICKED IN MIDDLE OF BIG WEST RACE: Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big West Conference for the upcoming 2008-09 season, selected to finish fourth by the media and sixth by the league's coaches at the conference's annual media day event at the Irvine Hilton.
The Titans received 34 points to finish one point back of Cal Poly in the coaches poll while the media gave Fullerton 56 points to finish five points ahead of Long Beach State.
UC Riverside was the unanimous choice to win the conference, picked by both the coaches and the media to take home the title. UC Santa Barbara (2nd coaches, tied for second media) and UC Davis (third coaches, tied for second media) followed in the top three with the remaining squads a jumble according to the two polls.
THOMAS NAMED PRESEASON PERFORMER: Cal State Fullerton senior forward Toni Thomas was named to the Big West preseason all-conference team during the league's media day for the second straight season, joining UC Davis' Haylee Donaghe, Long Beach State's Karina Figueroa, UC Santa Barbara's Jenna Green, and the UC Riverside duo of Seyram Gbewonyo and Kemie Nkele.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TITANS!: The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball program will be celebrating a couple of birthday's in the 2008-09 season. This year marks the 40th year at the varsity level for the Titans, who stand just nine wins shy of 500 victories in the history of the program. The 2008-09 season also marks the 20th anniversary of Cal State Fullerton's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as the 1988-89 team finished 21-9 overall and 12-6 in the Big West to earn an at-large berth.
HOME SWEET HOME: After a year that saw the Titans live out of their suitcases to start the season, Fullerton will have the luxury of playing close to home for the majority of its non-conference schedule. Eight of the Titans' first 13 games will be contested at Titan Gym, a venue where Fullerton has posted a 25-13 (.658) record over the last three seasons. It is the most wins at home in a three-year stretch since Fullerton went 27-16 (.628) from 1989-92 and the best winning percentage in a three-year span since the Titans were 31-9 (.775) from 1988-91.
"I WISH THEY ALL COULD BE...": Cal State Fullerton will enter the 2008-09 season as the only Big West Conference school to feature a roster comprised entirely of players from the "Golden State."