The women’s basketball team’s eight-game winning streak came to an end Saturday night with a 71-62 loss to new first-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Panthers had already clinched a spot in the playoffs earlier this season, but they can secure one of the top two playoff seeds and home court advantage with a senior night win over fifth-place Occidental College on Feb. 21.
The Athenas (17-8, 13-3) took down a Chapman team which hadn’t lost since Claremont beat them Jan. 18. Notably, upcoming opponent Occidental is the only other Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) team to beat Chapman this season.
“The loss definitely hurt all of us,” said senior guard Lauren Sato. “It’s never fun losing to any team. We had a great opportunity to secure the first-place position but we just didn’t play hard enough. Seeing (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) celebrate after the game wasn’t fun.”
Senior guard Megan Charles, who has been averaging 14.4 points per game, was held to just six points against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. She believes the Panthers have to focus before crucial games on Tuesday and Thursday, which is their first playoff game.
“It was a hard loss, but we need to win the next game to stay tied in first and get home court,” she said. “We’re just preparing for senior night and fixing the mistakes we made. We hope to come out hard and make it to the (SCIAC) championship game and NCAA playoffs. (We can improve) just communicating on defense and knowing who (each player) is guarding, and especially boxing people out.”
Freshman center Lucy Criswell and junior guard Jaime Hum-Nishikado scored 14 points each, with senior guard Lauren Sato leading the Panthers with 15.
While Chapman was able to tie in the first quarter 19-19, it was all downhill from there. During the second quarter, the team did employ its full-court, man-to-man defense strategy, but the Athenas broke through.
Senior forwards Quinn Glosniak and Kris Brackmann scored 17 and 13 points respectively for the Athenas.
With 15 ties and 12 lead changes, it was a close game, and toward the end of the fourth quarter, the Panthers tried to recover by resorting to fouls, but they were unable to mount a comeback.
“You learn so much more from a loss than from wins,” said head coach Carol Jue. “We all love to win, but when you have a loss, it shows what challenges we have as a team and lets us correct what we need to do to succeed.”
The Panthers next face off against Occidental College on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the Hutton Sports Center for the team’s senior night, before learning their SCIAC playoff semifinal seeding and opponent after Tuesday’s game.