Six Cal State Fullerton basketball players received Big West conference honors on Monday, with Kyle Allman Jr. (men’s) and Daeja Smith (women’s) leading the way for their respective programs by both making the all-conference first team.
Allman Jr. led the way for the men’s side by securing his second straight All-Big West First Team honors. The 2018 Big West Tournament MVP’s success in shooting has been a key part for the Titans’ second half of the season, as CSUF won ten straight games when the senior guard shoots at least 45 percent from the field.
The all-time leader in games played for the Titans was fourth in the conference in points with 17.8 points per game, and was tied with all-conference second team selection and teammate Khalil Ahmad.
Ahmad, the 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year, led the Titans in made field goals per game (6), free throw percentage (77.7) and steals (1.6).
Forward Jackson Rowe earned a Big West honorable mention after leading the Titans with eight rebounds per game, which ranked third in the conference. The two-time player of the week was also third in the conference in field goal percentage at 55.5 percent.
For the women’s team, Smith’s award comes after the redshirt-senior led the team with 13.1 points per game and the conference in field goal percentage at 53.3 percent. Smith’s 8.8 rebounds per game also ranked second in the conference.
Forward Amiee Book was named to the all-freshman team and was chosen as the sixth player of the year. The New Zealand native finished the season averaging 9.9 points per game, and her 50 percent field goal percentage ranked fifth in the conference. Book was also third in the conference in 3-point percentage at 43.9 percent.
18 double-digit scoring outings
Averaged 43.9 pct from beyond the arc
— #BigWestWBB (@BigWestWBB) March 11, 2019
Guard Raina Perez received a conference honorable mention in her first year with the Titans. The Northern Arizona transfer was second on the team in points per game (12.9) and led CSUF in assists with 4.9 per game.
Conference Tournament Prep
All of the head coaches participating in the Big West Tournament this week spoke to reporters ahead of the tournament via a conference call, including women’s basketball head coach Jeff Harada and men’s basketball head coach Dedrique Taylor.
The men’s team will be coming in as the No. 3 seed in the tournament after winning last year’s tournament as the No. 4 seed.
“I think most importantly we’ve got to acknowledge that the expectations are out there, but then find what we do best: Attach ourselves to those things mentally and engage, and then fight for it,” Taylor said.
The Titans got off to a rocky start this season at 4-10, but Taylor believes the tough non-conference schedule will pay off for the team.
“The different styles that we played against during that time, I think, will help give us an opportunity to be prepared for this scenario and this situation on Thursday,” Taylor said. “Playing that preseason schedule I think presented some challenges for us to learn from and grow from.”
This year’s Big West Tournament will be the first for Harada, and women’s basketball’s first postseason appearance since 2015.
“We feel good with what we accomplished this year,” Harada said. “It’s a great accomplishment. We’re just excited to extend our season and to keep playing.”
The women’s team will open the tournament tonight against Long Beach State, a team who they defeated last week on a game-winning buzzer beater by Perez.
“We were fortunately able to pull it out last week at their place, but we’re hoping that we can just calm down knowing it’s our first time playing in this tournament,” Harada said.
Harada isn’t shying away from winning the tournament, especially with last year’s No. 5 seed Cal State Northridge winning it all.
“That’s the beauty of a conference tournament. Anything can happen, anyone can win it, you just got to get there and give yourself a chance,” Harada said.
The game between CSUF and Long Beach State will tip off at 8:30 p.m. at the Bren Events Center in Irvine.