January 17, 2014

Fullerton Rolls Past UC Irvine in Big West Home Opener

FULLERTON, Calif.- Senior guard Alex Thomas poured in a career-high 22 points and junior forward Kathleen Iwuoha chipped in with 10 points and 13 rebounds, as Cal State Fullerton shot 50 percent for the game and raced past UC Irvine, 75-58 Thursday night at Titan Gym.

For the Titans (6-9, 2-0 Big West) it's now their third consecutive victory and fifth in the last six games. On the other hand, the Anteaters slide to 8-9 overall and 1-2 in conference play. 

Thomas led the way for the Titans (22 points) on 8-of-14 shooting and Iwuoha recorded her second double-double of the season, 10 points and 13 rebounds, to lead four Fullerton players in double figures for the game. Tailer Butler also scored 18 points off the bench as she converted a season-high six three-pointers (6-of-11). 

Jennifer Tsurumoto scored 18 points for the Anteaters in the loss. UCI had eight different players score as they shot 34.4 percent (22-for-64) from the floor. 

The Titans and Anteaters each came out with good energy to start the game, as both teams traded bucket after bucket. In fact, Fullerton got a much need lifted trailing by one when Butler came off the bench and knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to put the Titans up by five, 15-10. 

And while UC Irvine kept things close for the first five minutes, that was the last lead they saw up by one, as Fullerton knocked down multiple three-pointers to fuel a 14-2 over the next five-plus minute pan, to give the Titans a 23-12 lead with 10:43 remaining. 

The Anteaters cut the lead back down to single digit at one point, but the Titans quickly extended its lead back up to 14 and headed into intermission leading, 39-29.

Fullerton shot 51.9 percent in the first half and knock down a first half season-high seven three-pointers (7-for-18). Thomas led the way with 15 first half points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Butler added three three-pointers and Iwuoha chipped in with 6 points and 6 boards. Tsurumoto led the way for the Anteaters with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

As the second half started the Titans quickly jumped on 6-0 run and led 45-29 with 18:38 left to play. The Titans built its lead to as high as 20 points, as they went 28-for-56 from the field for 50 percent shooting on the night. The Titans knocked down 13 three-pointers (13-for-34) compared to the Anteater's four (4-for-22).

The Titans look to stay unbeated in conference play on Saturday, January 18 at Titan Gym at 6 p.m. versus the UC Davis Aggies. 

Notes: Tonight's meeting was the 68th meeting all-time between the two schools…the Titans are now 34-34 versus UC Irvine… Fullerton improves to 19-12 at Titan Gym against the Anteaters and 26-31 in Big West play… the Titans have won the last three of four contests… Iwuoha's double-double was her second of the season… the Titans begin 2-0 in the Big West conference for the first time since the 2009-10 season when that team started 4-0 in conference play… Fullerton is now 4-1 when shooting better than 40 percent from the floor…the team fell one three-pointer short of the all-time record in a game (14, vs. Iowa State on 11/15/06)...Chante Miles has scored double figures in 14 of 15 games this season.


Quotes

Cal State Fullerton Head Coach

Overall Statement

"Really, really pleased with our defense effort tonight. I thought our kids all week did an amazing job on understanding on how we wanted to defend and what we needed to accomplish to hold a very good Irvine team somewhere in the 50's. We came out and executed that tonight, couldn't be prouder of these kids they deserve to be 2-0 in the conference, they get to enjoy this tonight and then we wake up in the morning and we get to try to be 3-0."
 
On Tonight's Shooting
 
"The kids are really starting to understand the process and it's starting to get contagious and it's starting to pick up momentum a little bit. They understand the things that go into becoming a successful player, and being a consistent shooter. They are all taking it upon themselves to do those little things; they have been incredible receptive to all the hard work and getting up those extra shots and all those little things. They are doing a good job of executing our offense and getting us open looks, and we have open looks and starting to shoot them with confidence and make them."
 
On more consistency from scorers and Tailer Butler's Play
 
"Absolutely, you know that is a perfect example of a kid that's starting to understand the process and what it takes to have success.She has all sorts of amazing ability. Now that she is really starting to understand the nuances of the game and the little things you are starting to see her blossom a little bit. Really proud of her and really hope it will continue."