ORANGE, Calif. – Fresh off its first SCIAC Tournament title in 2017-18, the Chapman University women's basketball team heads back on to the hardwood this weekend to open the 2018-19 season. With SCIAC Athlete of the Year Lucy Criswell back to lead the Panthers, Chapman was picked to finish first in a poll of the conference coaches.
Criswell's breakout season led the Panthers to a 15-1 record in the SCIAC and a 23-5 record overall. Chapman defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in double overtime in the SCIAC Tournament title game to capture its first tournament championship and head back to the NCAA postseason.
Criswell scored 15.1 points per game last headline the All-SCIAC teams and earn All-Region honors. She was selected as a preseason All-American by D3hoops.com heading into her junior season.
Senior Jaryn Fajardo also returns to the floor as Chapman's only senior. The two-time All-SCIAC selection will again run the point for the Panthers. She has ranked in the top-50 in Division III in assists per game in each of the past two years as well as ranking 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio in 2016-17 and seventh in 2017-18.
Fajrdo is a career 43 percent shooter and has averaged over 10 points per game as a sophomore and junior when she jumped into a starting role. Last year, she also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists to go along with 2.5 steals per game.
The Panthers lost a pair of starters to graduation and will look to a young group to fill the voids on the wing and underneath. Junior Marissa Dunn started half of the games in 2017-18 and will look to reprise that role this year. She scored six points per game a year ago while averaging 16 minutes per game.
Sophomore Taylor Hextrum saw some time off the bench in her freshman season but will look to step into a much bigger role as a sophomore as will classmate Camryn Hamaguchi. Hextrum will be the Panthers' post presence. She averaged over a rebound per game last year while averaging only five minutes per game. Hamaguchi played in only 14 games as a freshman but managed to sink 10 three-pointers.
The Panthers welcome nine freshman to the roster for 2018-19 that will provide depth to a more experienced starting five. With just one senior and two juniors on the roster this season. The youth of the successful program will have to be a significant role as the season progresses.
Chapman opens the year at the Redlands Tip-Off Classic against Illinois College and Linfield. After their home-opener against Elmhurst on Nov. 23, the Panthers will play four conference games before the new year. A busy December takes Chapman to Hawaii for a pair of games and home for four more before getting into the bulk of the SCIAC season.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director