Trip to Central Coast Closes Out Roadtrip for Titans

Jan. 9, 2008

FULLERTON, CA - After tipping-off the new year with a conference victory last weekend, the Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (2-10 overall, 1-0 in the Big West Conference) closes out its season-long five-game road trip this weekend against a pair of league foes on California's Central Coast. The Titans take on Cal Poly on Thursday night (Jan. 10) at 7 p.m. before heading to UC Santa Barbara for a Saturday afternoon (Jan. 12) tip at 2 p.m.

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CATCH THE GAME: 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. Gametracker will also be available for Saturday's contest at UCSB.

SERIES RECORDS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 22-12, after splitting the season series last year with each school winning on its home floor... the Titans are 7-8 all-time in Mott Gym, having lost two straight since a 64-57 victory during the 2004-05 season... Fullerton trails the all-time series with UC Santa Barbara by a count of 35-21... the Gauchos have defeated the Titans in each of the last 28 consecutive meetings dating back to their 1995 Big West Tournament meeting won by Fullerton, 97-86... The Titans are 7-17 all-time in Santa Barbara, having lost the last 16 straight since a 50-47 victory on Feb. 12, 1991.

A LOOK AT CAL POLY: Under the direction of 11th year head coach Faith Mimnaugh, the Mustangs enter the weekend with a 5-9 overall record, but stand in a three-way tie atop the early Big West standings with a 2-0 record... Cal Poly snapped a six-game losing streak with a 78-66 win at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 3 and followed that up with a 76-59 win at Long Beach State on Jan. 5... Megan Harrison, the only player to start all 14 games for Cal Poly this season, leads the team offensively at 14.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg while shooting .391 from the floor... Lisa McBride is also in double figures at 13.3 ppg, while standing second in rebounding (6.3 rpg) and leading the squad with a .491 field goal percentage.

A LOOK AT UC SANTA BARBARA: Led by 21st-year head coach Mark French, the Gauchos enter the weekend with the only winning record in the Big West at 7-6 overall and stand in a three-way tie atop the league standings with a 2-0 record... The Gauchos will meet UC Irvine on Thursday night before taking on the Titans... UCSB has won its last three straight, and four of its last five, after sweeping the weekend from Long Beach State (70-62) and Cal State Northridge (88-44) following a win over Mississippi (74-66) on Dec. 29... Jessica Wilson (11.0 ppg) and Chisa Ononiwu (10.8 ppg) lead a trio of Gauchos in double figures - a list that includes standout Jenna Green (11.5 ppg), who is sitting out the season due to a back injury that forced her to miss five of the team's first nine games... Wilson leads the team, shooting .505 from the floor overall, while Ononiwu is a dual threat, shooting .444 from the field and .421 from three-point range.

SETTING THE TONE: Cal State Fullerton opened its Big West schedule with a win for the second straight year and the fourth time in the last six seasons last Friday at UC Irvine and the first "W" on the road in the Big West opener since a 66-65 win at Northridge to start the 2004 campaign.

NEXT BIG STEP: Winning the first one is good, but two straight would be better. Despite winning their fourth conference opener in the last six tries, the Titans have not started 2-0 in Big West play since 1998 when they defeated New Mexico State and North Texas to kick-off league play. Not to jinx anything, but a sweep of this weekend's games would not only mean the end of the programs longest active losing streak against any one team (UCSB), but the program's first 3-0 start in Big West Conference play since 1989.

TOO EARLY FOR "BACK-TO-BACK" TALK?: Just as she has all season, junior Toni Thomas stands atop the Big West scoring race at 17.9 ppg entering this week's contests. Should she repeat as the conference's scoring champion in 2008, Thomas, who leads UC Davis' Jessica Campbell (15.0 ppg) by almost three points per game in the standings, 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).

RICHIE BACK IN THE SWING: It seemed like it was going to happen every time Ashley Richie stepped on the court for a while as the speedy freshman guard set new career scoring high's each night during a four-game span. Now, after being held to just five points in her previous two outings, Richie has gotten back to her scoring ways setting new career bests last week off the bench against Santa Clara (15 points) and in a starting role at UC Irvine (16 points). In her seven starts this year, Richie is averaging 10.0 ppg (third on the team) and shooting just under 40 percent from the field compared to just 6.6 ppg and .341 from the floor when she comes off the bench.

MORE ON RICHIE: Since breaking into the starting lineup for the first time in her brief Division I career against USC on Nov. 30, Richie has averaged 10.6 ppg over the course of her last eight contests (third on the team), shooting .380 from the floor and co-leading the team with 16 steals.

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 seven consecutive free throws dating back to the USC game on Nov. 30 to increase her Big West-leading percentage to .960 (24-for-25). 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.

BUILDING BLOCKS: Toni Thomas has accounted for almost two-thirds of the team's blocks this season, leading the team and ranking fourth in the league with 0.83 blocks per game this season. Her 10 blocks this year give her 38 for her career - moving her into a tie for ninth with Shayla Bradshaw (1992-96) among the school's top 10 all-time shot blockers and just seven short of Andrea Thieme (1995-99) for No. 8 all-time.

BENNETT BREAKS THROUGH: Cal State Fullerton senior Alison Bennett became the second Titan to be ranked among the league's best rebounders this season, entering this week's games ranked No. 14 at 4.8 rpg. Bennett, who also ranks No. 10 in the Big West in minutes played (28.83 mpg), has led the team in rebounding four times this season, including a career-high 12 boards at Pepperdine on Dec. 7, and has averaging 6.3 rpg over her last six outings - also tops on the team.

BACK ON TRACK: After having her 31-game double-digit scoring streak stopped against Santa Clara, Toni Thomas got back to the business of scoring points last Friday at UC Irvine, starting a new streak as one of three Titans with a game-high 16 points in Fullerton's Big West season-opening win over the Anteaters.

SIGHTS SET: Speaking of scoring, Thomas needs only 35 more points this weekend to move into 10th place on the school's all-time scoring list, passing Cheryl Peterson's total of 1,163 points scored from 1978-81. Thomas currently has 1,129 career points in her two-plus seasons as a Titan and is on track to score more than 500 points for the second straight season. Should she accomplish that, Thomas would become only the third Cal State Fullerton player in the history of the program to score more than 500 points in two seasons, joining all-time leading scorer Eugenia Miller-Rycraw (1987-91), who did it three times, and Claudette Jackson (1990-92), who did it in both of her seasons as a Titan after transferring from Golden West College.

ACROSS THE NCAA: Individually, Toni Thomas ranks No. 35 in the nation in scoring at 17.9 ppg... Lauren Chow is No. 76 in the nation in steals at 2.50 spg, No. 56 in three-point percentage (.400), and No. 39 in three-point field goals made per game (2.50).

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 third in the Big West Conference with a .400 three-point percentage (30-of-75) and leads the league at 2.50 three-pointers made per game. Her 30 three-pointers made overall also lead all players in the Big West this season.

IN CONTROL: Cal State Fullerton has done a tremendous job of not shooting themselves in the foot this season and turning the ball over, ranking second in the league with 19.1 turnovers per game (including matching a season low with 15 turnovers in the win over UC Irvine last Friday) and 229 turnovers overall to stand behind only UC Riverside (225/17.3 pg) as the least error prone team in the Big West this season.

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. 71 in the NCAA and standing second in the Big West Conference thus far this season with 10.25 steals per game. Two Titans rank among the league's best thieves, as Lauren Chow is second with 2.50 spg and Ashley Richie stands tied for fifth at 1.92 spg.

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 assists (T-2nd), free throw percentage (1st), steals (2nd), three-point percentage (3rd), three-pointers made (1st), and assist-to-turnover ratio (5th).