ORANGE, Calif. – The Chapman University women's basketball team won its seventh straight game and sent senior G Kimi Takaoka out with an 84-55 victory over Caltech on "Senior Night" Thursday at the Hutton Center, clinching home court advantage for the opening round of the SCIAC playoffs.
Takaoka, who earlier this week earned Academic All-America first team honors, led the Panthers with 24 points on 11 of 12 shooting, including 18 in the first half.
Chapman (19-5 overall, 13-2 SCIAC) opened the first half strong by pressuring Caltech (1-23 overall, 0-15 SCIAC) and opening up a 10-point lead as Takaoka nailed one of her two three-pointers, giving the Panthers a 19-9 lead with 13:06 to go in the first period. Chapman stretched the first-half lead to 38-17 when sophomore G Tricia Supan hit Takaoka with a pass that she promptly followed with a layup.
The Panthers had 10 players score in the first half, sending them into the break with a 47-31 lead. Junior PG Andrea Villanueva recorded six of her game-high seven assists in the period.
In the second half, Chapman picked up where it left off, opening the half on a 10-5 run, that was capped when junior G Lynne Higashigawa hit a jumper off one of Takaoka's three assists on the night. With 9:36 left on the clock, freshman G Rebecca LaVold sunk a shot that stretched the Panther lead to 74-40, their biggest lead of the contest.
The Panthers received strong support off the bench from sophomore F Natalia Ebrahimian who set her season-high field-goal percentage (72.7 percent) on 8 of 11 shooting.
The Beavers were led by junior G Bridget Connor, who ended the night with a team-high 14 points, going 7-for-12 from the field.
With the win, the Panthers secure home court advantage in the first round of the conference tournament, which will begin on Feb. 27, with the seeding still to be determined.
Chapman will close out its regular season schedule with a match up against the University of La Verne on the road Saturday. A win or a Claremont-Mudd-Scripps loss to Whittier will give the Panthers the No. 1 seed in the tournament and secure at least a share of the SCIAC regular season title.
by Michael Schwartz
Sports Information Intern