Fifth-Seeded Titans Head to Anaheim for 2007 Big West Tournament

Fifth-Seeded Titans Head to Anaheim for 2007 Big West Tournament

March 6, 2007

FULLERTON, CA - The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team (14-15, 7-7) begins its "second season" this week as the Titans head to the Anaheim Convention Center for the 2007 Big West Conference Women's Basketball Tournament beginning on Wednesday (March 7). Fullerton, the No. 5 seed, will take on eighth-seeded Pacific in the tournament's first game at 12 p.m.

Regular season champion UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara are the tournament's top two seeds and earned a berth into the semifinals. Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge are the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, and won't have to play until Thursday's quarterfinals against the winners of the first round.

The women's tournament champion will be crowned on Saturday (March 10) at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket.

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All of Cal State Fullerton's games this week will be broadcast live over the Internet at Live video over the Internet will also be available for BigWest.TV subscribers from the Big West Conference website at

Cal State Fullerton is making its seventh consecutive appearance in the Big West Conference Tournament since the 2000-01 season and its 18th appearance in 22 tournaments overall dating back to the PCAA days beginning in 1985-86. Fullerton is 8-17 all-time, but has lost three straight dating back to a first-round, 71-56, victory over UC Riverside in 2004. Fullerton is 0-1 against Pacific all-time in the Big West Tournament, losing to the Tigers, 78-59, in the second round in 2004.

Cal State Fullerton trails in the all-time series with Pacific, 30-16, after the two schools split their two meetings this season with each team winning on their home court... the Tigers defeated the Titans, 61-53, in Stockton, Calif., with Fullerton returning the favor with a 75-69 win at Titan Gym.

Pacific enters the tournament with an 8-21 overall record and just a 2-12 mark in conference play... The Tigers have lost 11 of their last 12, save for a victory over Long Beach State on Feb. 3 at the Spanos Center, since their 61-53 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 6 at home... All-Big West Honorable Mention selection Karen Dawkins leads the team in scoring at 13.2 ppg and 7.2 rpg in 26 starts while shooting 48 percent from the floor and knocking down a team-high 23 blocks... All-Freshman Team selection Jake Kelly is also averaging double figures at 11.6 ppg while dishing out a team-high 114 assists.

Cal State Fullerton's powerful 1-2 punch of sophomore Toni Thomas and senior Charlee Underwood both earned All-Big West Conference honors as the league office released the 2006-07 all-conference teams on Monday morning. Thomas led the league in scoring during the regular season while finishing among the top 10 in seven different categories. Underwood, who earned all-freshman team honors in 2003-04 and honorable mention all-conference accolades in 2004-05, earned a spot on the second team after averaging 14.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg this season - both of which ranked among the league's top 15.

Thomas became only the 10th Titan women's basketball player to earn All-Big West First-Team honors and the first since Dee Braxton in the 1996-97 season.

Sophomore Toni Thomas extended her double-digit scoring streak to 18 consecutive games with her 20-point effort off the bench in a "Senior Night" win over UC Davis on March 1, marking the 28th time in 29 games that the second-year forward has scored 10-or-more points. Thomas is averaging 17.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in that span while shooting 46 percent from the floor (116-for-250) and 84 percent (81-for-97) from the free throw line in that span. She has scored 20 points or more in seven of those games (including the last three straight) and has notched five double-doubles. (Thanks, Joe Martinez, for the headline)

MISS "500"
Thomas became the first Titan to score 500 points in a single season last Thursday against UC Davis since Koko Lahanas led the nation in scoring with 778 points (26.8 ppg) in 1994-95. With 510 points heading into this week's Big West Tournament, Thomas needs just eight more points to move into 10th place on the school's single-season scoring list.

Senior point guard India McDaniel is rapidly closing in on the school's single-season assist list as her 113 assists this year are just 13 short of tying Shayla Bradshaw (1993-94) and Meg Gallagher (1983-84) for 10th place.

Senior Audrey Taylor is also closing in on another milestone in her brilliant Titan career as the point guard is just nine assists shy of tying Sheryl Jones (1985-89) for fourth on the school's career list. Her 107 assists this season are also just seven short of her collegiate single-season best (114 as a redshirt sophomore in 2004-05).

Both sophomore Toni Thomas and senior India McDaniel have been deadly accurate from the free throw line this season... Big West here... Thomas, who is 117-for-145 this season from the charity stripe, is just three free throws shy of moving into a tie for eighth on the school's single-season list with McDaniel just 22 short of duplicating that feat.

If the season ended today, Thomas' .807 free throw percentage would rank fourth on the all-time list - just percentage points short of Kathy Ricks (.808) in third place.

Sophomore Toni Thomas finished the regular season atop the Big West scoring race at 17.6 points per game entering this week's conference tournament games - besting second place Karina Figueroa of Long Beach State by just over a point per game. Thomas is looking to become the first Titan to lead the league in scoring since Koko Lahanas accomplished the feat in 1994-95 after averaging a nation-high 26.8 ppg. Claudette Jackson (1992 - 20.3 ppg) and Genia Miller (1991 - 29.4 ppg) are the only other Titans to finish the season atop the Big West in scoring.

With her 11 points on Feb. 22 against UC Santa Barbara, senior Charlee Underwood became only the seventh player in Cal State Fullerton women's basketball history to score at least 1,300 points for her career. She needs 86 more points to pass Meg Gallagher's (1981-85) 1,421 career points for sixth place on the all-time list.

With her 21 points against UC Davis, senior Charlee Underwood upped her career total to 1,336 points in her three-plus seasons, but will need the Titans to make a deep run into the Big West and/or NCAA Tournament to surpass Meg Gallagher's 1,421 points for sixth. However, she did move up two spots to No. 13 on Fullerton's all-time scoring list when you include the top scorers from Fullerton's men's team as she jumped past Tony Neal (1981-85) and Henry Turner (1984-88) to stand behind Gallagher.

In only her second season in a Titans uniform, Thomas is just 137 points away from becoming the 17th member of Cal State Fullerton's 1,000-point club. Thanks to a monster sophomore season, Thomas' 863 career points already ranks No. 19 on the all-time scoring list - just 86 points away from passing Koko Lahanas (1993-95) for 18th place.

Fullerton's win over UC Davis was its 14th of the season - matching the most victories in a season for the Titans since the 1994-95 squad finished the year 14-15 overall. A win over Pacific on Wednesday night in the Big West Tournament first round would give the Titans the program's most wins in a season since the NCAA Tournament-bound 1990-91 squad finished the year with a program-best 25-8 overall record.

Cal State Fullerton clinched its 10th victory at home against the Aggies, posting double-digit wins at Titan Gym for the first time since the 1990-91 squad went 12-1 on the home floor en route to the NCAA Tournament - including a first-round victory over Louisiana Tech at Titan Gym. The Titans finished with back-to-back winning home seasons for the first time since the 1989-90 (9-5) and 1990-91 (12-1) seasons.

Senior Charlee Underwood notched her sixth double-double of the season last Thursday against UC Davis, all of those coming in the last 10 games of the year. Underwood's total stands seventh in the Big West Conference heading into this week's tournament action.

For someone who blocked only three shots in 28 games for all of last season, this performance is quite impressive. Sophomore Toni Thomas has swatted 22 blocks as a sophomore this season - a total that ranks tied for No. 10 in a single season and added to a career total that is just 12 short of breaking into the career top 10.

Cal State Fullerton's 1,887 points scored this season are just nine points short of matching last season's offensive output and, with an almost guaranteed chance of getting at least 10 points in Wednesday night's Big West Tournament opener, the Titans will have scored the most points as a team since the 1994-95 squad racked up 2,158 points during the season.

Underwood will go down as one of the most prolific three-point shooters in the history of the program as her 4-for-7 performance against UC Davis set one record and brought her closer to another. Underwood now holds the school's career mark with 469 three-point attempts and stands second with 156 three-pointers made - just three away from tying the school record held by Shayla Bradshaw, who had 159 from 1992-96.

Aside from being a career-high, Underwood's 53 three-pointers made the season rank tied for fourth on the school's single-season list with Bradshaw's 1995-96 total and stands just two behind Bradshaw, who also holds the No. 3 spot with 55 made during the 1994-95 season.

Cal State Fullerton continues to sit atop the Big West Conference in free throw shooting at .723 entering this week's conference tournament. The Titans have shot better than 70 percent from the line in 17 of 29 games this season (and eight times at 80 percent or better), but are only 9-8 in those games.

Cal State Fullerton enters this week shooting a league-high .723 from the free throw line to rank No. 75 in the NCAA behind Wisconsin-Green Bay's nation-leading .811 from the charity stripe.

Thomas continues to rank among the NCAA's best in three different categories, entering the week ranked No. 49 in scoring, No. 80 in rebounding, and No. 89 in free throw percentage. She is one of two Big West players ranked in the top 100 in scoring and free throw percentage (Figueroa, Long Beach State), and one of five in rebounding.

Cal State Fullerton's Toni Thomas (17.6 ppg) and Charlee Underwood (14.6 ppg) each rank among the league's top 10 scorers - making them the best 1-2 offensive punch in the Big West, 110 points better than the UC Santa Barbara duo of Jenna Green and Jessica Wilson (826 points, 16.0 and 13.4 ppg, respectively). Thomas and Underwood have combined to score 920 points (32.2 ppg) and has accounted for just under 49 percent of the team's points this season.

Back-tracking just a little. With her eight rebounds on Jan. 18 against Long Beach State, Underwood became the ninth player in the history of the Fullerton program to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a career. She is the second player to accomplish that feat in as many years as Amber Pruitt (2002-06) became the eighth member of that club last season - and the first since Claudette Jackson reached those milestones in the 1991-92 season.

Many teams are thankful to have a talented point guard in the backcourt, directing the team's success one pass at a time. This season, the Titans have been blessed to have two basketball-saavy passers in the backcourt as Audrey Taylor and India McDaniel have done an excellent job "quarterbacking" Fullerton's offense this season. McDaniel (113 assists) and Taylor (107 assists) both rank among the top five in the Big West Conference in assists and, after their performances at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 22, became the first Titan guard tandem to each reach 100 assists since Marissa Frial and Shayla Bradshaw dished out 173 and 121 assists, respectively, during the 1994-95 season.

Charlee Underwood played in all 40 minutes of the Titans' win over UC Davis on March 1 - marking the sixth time that the Fullerton senior has not seen the bench in a game this season. Underwood, who has played 39 minutes twice and 38 minutes three times this season, is second on the team with 959 minutes played and leads the team at 34.2 minutes per game. Going the distance hasn't hurt her statistically, though, as she is averaging 16.8 ppg and 10.7 rpg in those games while shooting .506 (42-for-83) from the field.

Cal State Fullerton improved to 9-3 this season when it has a player tally a double-double thanks to its victory over UC Davis on March 1. The Titans have twice had two double-doubles in a single game this season as Toni Thomas and Charlee Underwood accomplished the feat against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10 and again on Feb. 15 against UC Irvine.

Senior Charlee Underwood grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds in the Titans' win over UC Irvine on Jan. 20, coming close to matching the single-game school record of 23 shared by three former Titans that has stood since 1980. Underwood's 19 rebounds were the most in a game for a Fullerton player since Erin Whiteside grabbed 21 boards in a win over San Jose State on Jan. 2, 2000.

The Cal State Fullerton defense racked up a season-high eight blocks in a Jan. 6 loss at Pacific - the most swats in a single game for the Titans since the 1997-98 season when they also had eight in a loss to Northern Iowa on Nov. 24. The single-game school record for Fullerton is 11, accomplished three times in the history of the program - the last coming on March 6, 1991, against Fresno State.

Senior Ariel Adams (4) and junior Alison Bennett (3) combined for seven of the Titans' eight total blocks against the Tigers while senior Charlee Underwood tallied her 11th block of the season. The four blocks by Adams were the most since Heather Hansen also blocked four shots in a loss to Santa Clara on Dec. 12, 1999.

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 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 against UCLA on Nov. 30 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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