The Panthers chased the Bulldogs out of their yard and out of fourth place in the SCIAC standings, as Chapman’s women’s basketball team defeated the University of Redlands 71-58 Thursday night at the Hutton Sports Center.
The win breaks a two-game losing streak for the Panthers (12-4, 4-3), which senior guard Anne Yoshimura attributes to increased communication on the court.
“The team really pulled together,” Yoshimura said. “Communicating within the team has been a game changer. When we talk, we play amazing.”
The two teams hung together in the beginning of the first half, but down 21-19 with just nine minutes remaining, the Panthers scored eight unanswered points to go up 27-21, securing a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game.
Chapman had its highest field goal percentage of the season, 52.8 percent, as four players scored in the double digits.
Yoshimura and junior guard Kimi Takaoka had 13 points apiece, while sophomore guard Andrea Villaneuva put up 14. Freshman forward Sandra Gao led the team with 17 points, while senior guard Allison Wong led Redlands (11-5, 4-3) with 14 points.
“Our shot selection was way better than most games,” said Head Coach Carol Jue. “I didn’t know how we were going to be after two losses, but these girls are resilient.”
Though red-hot at the end of the first half, when the Panthers led 41-32, the team’s momentum cooled down in the second half. Jue said this was a result of taking poor shots, as well as fatigue and injuries.
“They were getting tired, and we hadn’t played in a week,” Jue said. “Usually we sub every three minutes, but today we conserved our energy a little bit more.”
The 14 steals forced by Chapman’s full-court press defense also contributed to the win, as there was a four-minute stretch in the second half when the Panthers made no shot attempts.
“Shots just didn’t fall,” Jue said. “Thank goodness they fell in the first half.”
The win pushes the team into fourth place in the SCIAC, the last qualifying spot for the postseason conference tournament.
“We could easily be 6-0, but really we just have to make the top four,” Jue said. “You have to find something to goal orient it.”
Chapman will return to the Hutton Sports Center this Thursday to face Caltech in another conference matchup. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Villaneuva is confident about her team’s chances in the remaining conference games.
“It only takes one game to spark the rest of the season,” she said.