Titans Host Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara in Big West Women's Basketball Openers

Titans Host Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara in Big West Women's Basketball Openers

Dec. 26, 2006

FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (5-8 overall, 0-0 in the Big West Conference) opens its 22nd season of Big West Conference basketball this week as the Titans play host to Cal Poly on Thursday (Dec. 28) at 7 p.m. and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday (Dec. 30) at 2 p.m. at Titan Gym to close out a four-game homestand.

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Both of Cal State Fullerton's upcoming contests against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara can be heard live over the Internet by logging on to www.FullertonTitans.com and clicking on the graphic on the right-hand side of the main page. Veteran women's basketball play-by-play man Todd Reeves will bring you the acion live from Titan Gym as the Titans take on the Mustangs and Gauchos.

Live streaming video for all Cal State Fullerton home games and select road contests will be available once again during the regular season through a partnership with the Big West Conference and CSTV. The subscription video service is \$79.95 for the entire season or \$9.95 per month. For more information, please visit the Big West website at www.bigwest.org/tv.

Cal State Fullerton is 6-15 all-time in Big West Conference openers, having lost each of the last two... Fullerton's last Big West opening win came in 2004 when the Titans downed Cal State Northridge, 66-65, on the road... Cal State Fullerton has opened Big West play against Cal Poly twice, posting a 1-1 record... the Titans downed the Mustangs, 84-76, in overtime at home in 2003 and lost last season's league opener, 81-74, at Mott Gym... Fullerton is 1-3 overall in openers that have gone to overtime, losing to UC Irvine (1995), Long Beach State (1997), and Cal State Northridge (2005) while defeating Cal Poly (2003)... The Titans have scored at least 70 points in three of their last four conference openers... Fullerton is 3-6 in openers at home and just 3-9 when opening on the road.

Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 21-11, dating back to the 1969-70 season... the two schools split last year's two meetings with each school winning on its home court... The Titans are 11-4 all-time against the Mustangs at Titan Gym, while just 7-7 on the road... UC SANTA BARBARA:
The Gauchos lead the all-time series with the Titans, 32-22, dating back to the 1970-71 season and have won the last 25 consecutive meetings ¬ the longest active winning streak by any one opponent against the Titans... Fullerton's last win against UCSB came on March 8, 1995, as the Titans downed the Gauchos, 97-86, at the Big West Conference Tournament... Cal State Fullerton is 12-12 all-time at home against UCSB, but just 7-16 on the road.

Cal Poly is 4-7 overall on the season, but has lost its last four straight contests to San Diego State in overtime, San Diego, Southern Miss, and Saint Mary's... The Mustangs are led offensively by preseason all-conference honoree Jessica Eggleston, who is averaging 12.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest to lead the team in both categories... Eggleston is the only Mustang in double figures... Cal Poly is averaging 66.5 points per game as a team while allowing only 68.5 ppg.

UCSB is also 4-7 overall to start the year, but has posted wins in three of its last five after a 1-5 start... preseason all-conference honoree Jenna Green leads the team in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg), and field goal percentage (.545) while also shooting .700 from the free throw line and blocking 14 shots... Jessica Wilson is also in double figures at 13.3 ppg and is averaging 3.40 assists per contest.

With her nine points last week against Cal State Bakersfield, senior Charlee Underwood moved into 12th place all-time on the school's scoring list ¬ just two points behind Claudette Jackson (1990-92) and 11 points behind Tamara Quinn for 10th place.

With a trio of three-pointers made against San Francisco, Underwood moved into fourth place all-time on the school¹s career list and needs just five more three¹s to pass Joey Ray (1988-92) for third.

Cal State Fullerton¹s five victories against non-conference opponents this season are the most for a Titan squad since the 1996-97 squad posted five wins before the start of Big West play.

After its loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 20, Cal State Fullerton fell to 0-3 against first-time opponents this season, following up losses to Iowa State and Texas-Arlington. The Titans have lost five of their last six meetings against first-time opponents dating back to last season with the lone exception being an 84-63 victory over Utah Valley State on Jan. 26, 2006.

Cal State Fullerton senior India McDaniel was a perfect 15-for-15 from the free throw line in the Titans' victory over San Francisco on Dec. 18 - the best single-game performance from the line in school history. McDaniel's 15 free throws also tied the school record by a single player held by Claudette Jackson (15-of-16 vs. UNLV on Jan. 19, 1991) and Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (15-of-16 vs.Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 30, 1989).

The 15 attempts were the most by a Titan since Erin Whiteside went to the line 15 times against San Jose State on Jan. 2, 2000. The single-game record for attempts is held by Koko Lahanas, who was 14-of-20 from the line vs. Cal Poly on Feb. 14, 1995.

The 32 free throws made by the Titans as a team against the Dons, matched the school record set by the 1984 team against Arizona State on Feb. 18 of that year. In a media guide correction, the record for attempts is now 50 set by the Titans against Oakland University on Nov. 16, 1998.

The top two scorers in Big West Conference women's basketball will meet head-to-head on Saturday as Cal State Fullerton sophomore Toni Thomas and UC Santa Barbara junior Jenna Green lock horns as the Titans battle the Gauchos. Thomas, who has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, leads the league at 17.3 points per game while Green, who ranked third in the league in scoring last season at 14.4 ppg, is a point behind Thomas in the standings at 16.3 ppg entering this week's games.

Thomas also ranks among the conference's best in seven other categories including rebounding (5th), field goal percenatage (7th), free throw percentage (4th), blocked shots (7th), and minutes played (t5th).

Should sophomore Toni Thomas keep up her current scoring pace (17.3 ppg) over the Titans' 17 remaining games, she would be in line to become the first Titan player to score 500 points in a single season since Koko Lahanas led the nation in scoring with 778 points (26.8 ppg) in 1994-95. Thomas' current pace would put her at 519 points for the year ¬ which would rank 10th on the single-season list.

Cal State Fullerton's Toni Thomas (17.3 ppg) and Charlee Underwood (14.4 ppg) each rank among the league's top five scorers ¬ making them the best 1-2 offensive punch in the Big West. The duo has combined to score 398 points (15.85 ppg) to stand ahead of the second place pair from Pacific in Karen Dawkins (14.4 ppg) and Jake Kelly (13.8 ppg), who have combined to score 338 points (14.1 ppg) this season.

Ever since the Titans returned home from their season-opening six-game road trip, senior guard India McDaniel has been dishing out the assists for Fullerton, averaging 6.43 assists per game over the last seven games and enters this week's Big West Conference openers leading the league with 4.54 apg through 13 games this season. Earlier this year, McDaniel notched a career-best 11 assists to go with 17 points in a win over Colorado on Dec. 7 for her first career double-double.

Cal State Fullerton senior guard Audrey Taylor came out firing in the Titans' last game against Cal State Bakersfield, reaching double figures for the first time this season with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with four assists and two steals. It was her 13th career double-digit scoring performance and the total fell just one shy of her career high of 17 points set against Northern Arizona in her sophomore season.

Despite being held to just nine points in the Titans' loss to Cal State Bakersfield, snapping a six-game double-digit scoring streak, senior Charlee Underwood has been one of Fullerton's top offensive threats, averaging 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over her last seven contests while shooting 42 percent (42-for-100) from the floor and 73 percent (11-for-15) from the free throw line. This comes after a slow three-game stretch prior to the streak that saw Underwood score just 17 points total.

In honor of the late James Brown, who passed away early on Christmas morning, we'd like to introduce you to three of the "hardest working women" in Big West Conference women's basketball this season: sophomore Toni Thomas, senior India McDaniel, and senior Charlee Underwood. The trio, who make up three-fifth's of Cal State Fullerton's starting lineup, all rank in the top 10 in the league in minutes played this season as Thomas and McDaniel rank tied for fifth at 33.92 minutes per game while Underwood is 10th at 32.08 minutes per contest. In addition, McDaniel has gone the distance in a single game twice this season, playing all 40 minutes against Montana State (Nov. 24) and Colorado (Dec. 7) while senior Charlee Underwood played all 40 minutes against Northern Colorado (Dec. 9).

With her three assists on Dec. 9 against Northern Colorado, senior guard Audrey Taylor became just the ninth Titan to notch at least 300 assists in a career and currently stands ninth on the school's all-time list with 309 ¬just 24 behind Marissa Frial (332 assists from 1991-95) for eighth place.

The 89 points scored by the Titans on Dec. 7 against Colorado were the most for a Fullerton squad since the Titans put up 96 points in a victory at Long Beach State on Feb. 22, 1998 (96-87). The 49 second-half points against the Buffaloes was also a season-high (in either half) for Fullerton and the most since the Titans scored 52 in the second half against Pacific on Feb. 16, 2006.

Borrowing a line from the great Jimi Hendrix. Not only are the Titans the most experienced team in the Big West Conference with eight upperclassmen, they are among the nation¹s best in a survey of schools conducted by University of Florida women¹s basketball SID Kathy Cafazzo. According to the schools that responded to the survey, Cal State Fullerton¹s roster ranks tied for No. 9 in the nation 24 combined years of experience (South Carolina leads with 28) and No. 14 in the country according to the number of combined starts with 250 (James Madison leads with 365 combined starts by its 14-woman roster).

Senior Charlee Underwood and Toni Thomas became the first Titan teammates to score 20 points in the same game since the 1998-99 season when Erin Whiteside and Niesha Cleveland had 22 and 28 points, respectively, to lead Fullerton to an overtime win over Oakland University in the season opener on Nov. 16.

Fullerton¹s 14-of-35 shooting from three-point range on Nov. 15 on the road at Iowa State set school single-game records for three-point shooting, surpassing the previous marks of 13 three-pointers made (against Nevada on Feb. 26, 1994) and 32 attempts (four times, last vs. Nevada, Jan. 8, 1994).

The clash between Southern California rivals Cal State Fullerton and UCLA drew 672 fans to Titan Gym ¬ the largest Titan Gym crowd for a women¹s basketball game (not including doubleheaders with the men¹s team) since the Titans defeated Louisiana Tech, 84-80, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in front of 813 fans on March 13, 1991.

Fullerton is the only team in the Big West Conference with a roster comprised entirely of Californians. Taking this theme one step further, the Big West Conference is the only conference in the nation, at any level, with its membership completely contained in a single state.

Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish sixth in the Big West Conference this season in a poll of media members and league coaches conducted at the conference¹s annual media day event at the Irvine Hilton Hotel on Oct. 25. UC Riverside was the slight favorite by a single point over UC Santa Barbara according to the coaches with the Gauchos and UCR flip-flopping spots in the media poll. Both groups had Long Beach State third, Cal State Northridge fourth, Cal State Fullerton sixth and Pacific eighth. Cal Poly and UC Irvine were interchanged at fifth and seventh with the coaches favoring UCI and the media leaning toward the Mustangs.

The Titans¹ 2006-07 non-conference schedule will be one of the most difficult in recent memory. Two of the opponents are already receiving preseason accolades as UCLA (Nov. 30) is ranked No. 23 and Drake (Nov. 19) is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason top 25. In addition, three of Fullerton¹s first six games (with the possibility of a fourth) will be against schools that finished among the top 120 of last year¹s RPI standings: Iowa State (70), Nebraska (73), Drake (104), and Texas-Arlington (119). The home schedule then kicks off against a pair of postseason squads as Fresno State (final RPI of 80) visits on Nov. 28 after making the second round of the WNIT and the Bruins (final RPI of 21) come calling after a second-round NCAA appearance.


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