FULLERTON, Calif. — A group of young women stood in a line facing the far side of Cal State Fullerton's Titan Gymnasium. All wearing matching orange shirts and white shorts, all ready to take the court. They bowed their heads and gripped one another's hands, silent in a moment of reflection.
Hailey King, close to the end of the line, let go of her teammates' hands. She used the collar of her warm-up shirt to dry her tears. Cameras flickered on King and the cry-stained faces of her teammates and coaches, with one noticeably absent.
The Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team was set to face UC Riverside in the first game since the tragic death of assistant coach Monica Quan last Sunday, Feb. 3, and a Riverside police officer on Thursday. The team played with heavy hearts for "Coach Mo" Saturday afternoon in a Big West Conference game.
The final score — a 64-45 loss — held significantly less meaning than usual. What was important was that for 40 minutes, the team was able to channel its grief, shock and confusion on the hardwood, all the while honoring Quan through its play.
"I can't begin to tell you what it feels like to function without your family," Titans head coach Marcia Foster said while holding back tears. "We want to do our best as the season goes on to honor Monica Quan."