Win propels women’s basketball into SCIAC championship

In a nail-biting, come-from-behind victory, the women’s basketball team defeated the University of Redlands 64-62 in the SCIAC postseason conference tournament semifinal Thursday night at the Hutton Sports Center.

The Panthers were down 33-22 at halftime after shooting a grim 26 percent in the first half, but staunch defense and clutch shooting brought them back for the team’s first conference playoff win.

“When we came out the first five minutes of the second half, you noticed the difference. There was more fire on everyone’s faces,” said head coach Carol Jue.

Senior guard Anne Yoshimura led the way for Chapman (21-5, 12-4), sinking 15 points on 6-8 shooting. The team captain helped keep the Panthers in the game with several key baskets. Her scoring was proved key to counter the Redlands (19-7, 12-4) defense that clamped on leading scorer and junior guard Kimi Takaoka.

“We have to get [Takaoka] open and step up to make plays,” Yoshimura said.

Takaoka was held to 11 points on the night, but the Panthers quickly recovered with all five starters dipping into double figures. Senior guard Emily McCoy fought through  tough shooting terrain to hit a crucial 3-pointer and several free throws in the second half.  McCoy capped the game with 11 points, while freshman forward Sandra Gao added 11 points.

Closing its home-court play for the season, Chapman will travel to Cal Lutheran University to face the Regals in the SCIAC championship game Saturday at 5 p.m. The Panthers have split the series with Cal Lutheran this season, dropping the most recent loss 52-49 on the Regals’ court Jan. 19.

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