LAPD manhunt: Cal State Fullerton women's basketball team remembers tough, warm 'Coach Mo'

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Cal State Fullerton women's basketball coach Marcia Foster (middle), along with players Alex Thomas, Lauren Bushong and Jessica Palmer (L-R) talk with reporters Saturday about assistant coach Monica Quan, who was murdered a week ago in Irvine.

Players on the Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team and their UC Riverside opponents observed a moment of silence before today's game in honor of Titan assistant coach Monica Quan.

Quan, 28, was murdered last weeked in Irvine along with her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, 27. Authorities suspect former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner targeted the two and shot them to death as they sat in a car in a parking lot near their Irvine apartment.

Quan's father, Randal Quan, is a former LAPD captain who later became a lawyer. He represented Dorner during the Board of Rights appeal that ended with Dorner's dismissal from the force. In his online "manifesto," Dorner accused Quan of botching his appeal and promised revenge against the lawyer and others in the LAPD.

Extra campus police were on hand outside Titan Gym for the game - the first for the Cal State Fullerton women's team since Quan's murder.

As they warmed up before the game against UC Riverside, Fullerton players wore T-shirts that displayed Monica Quan's name. Both teams also wore orange ribbons in Quan's honor.

After the game, Titan head coach Marcia Foster and several teammates spoke to reporters  about Quan’s legacy. Foster said even though Cal State Fullerton dropped a 64-45 decision, the Titans played their hearts out for the woman they affectionately called “Coach Mo.”   

“It’s hard for us to get out on the floor,” Foster said. “A part of our family was missing. We can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to function without a part of your family here.”  

Tears came to team captain Alex Thomas’ eyes as she remembered Quan. 

“She was someone we could all talk to,” said Thomas. “We could talk about things besides basketball, and so that was nice for all of us.”

The junior player from Mission Viejo said Quan would have shown the team some tough love about how they played today.

“She’s very big on the little things and the details,” Thomas said with a smile. "Today we didn’t really take care of the details the way we know we should have, so she wouldn’t have been as happy about that.”

Still, Thomas said Quan would’ve praised the team’s effort.

Redshirt freshman Jessica Palmer recalled how Quan helped her and others power through tough times.  

“Without her, I’m not sure how I would’ve got through it, being injured and what not,” Palmer said as she choked up. “She was always there for me. I thought she was a great person.”   

Senior Lauren Bushong laughed about the basketball jargon Quan would spit out between games.

“Whenever we’re rebounding in practice, she’s in the back of your head just saying ‘crash the boards’ or 'box out,’ said Bushong. "And I think that’s probably what we’ll remember on the court a lot about her.”  

Foster said Quan was introduced to her as a potential assistant coach four years ago, but she didn’t have an opening at the time.

But she said she watched Quan's work as an assistant at California Lutheran University for two years. When an opportunity opened at CSUF, Foster said giving Quan the job was a no-brainer.     

“I didn’t realize all that I was getting in Monica Quan,” said Foster. “I didn’t realize the depth of someone so young that would have such an influence, not just on me, but the team and on other people she had the opportunity to interact with.”  

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