The Chapman women’s basketball team cruised to a 71-49 away victory over the California Institute of Technology on Wednesday, Jan. 25 to help the Panthers to third place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
Senior guard Lauren Sato led the Panthers (9-8, 6-2) with 13 points in a free-scoring performance from her team that saw 12 different Chapman players score. Junior guard Jaime Hum-Nishikado scored nine points, all from 3-pointers.
“In the beginning, we had a little rough start on defense, but as the game progressed, we started to rotate better and get stops,” Hum-Nishikado said. “Offense-wise, it was great to see everyone scoring and contributing.”
Chapman held a 35-24 halftime lead before scoring 22 points in the third quarter as Caltech (3-15, 1-8) struggled to win back any momentum from the Panthers.
Beyond Sato’s strong scoring performance, senior guard Megan Charles and freshman guard Marissa Dunn each had nine points for the Panthers. Freshman forward Rachel Williams hauled in a team-high eight rebounds in addition to her seven points.
Sophomore center Elizabeth Eiden was the Beavers’ best scorer, putting up 12 points and six rebounds while senior forward Kate Lewis added 10 points of her own for Caltech. Caltech remains in eighth place in the SCIAC.
The win means that Chapman currently sits in a SCIAC playoff position, but Hum-Nishikado believes the team’s best basketball is still ahead.
“We are happy to be in third but by no means satisfied,” Hum-Nishikado said. “We want to win the SCIAC championship this season and go to the NCAA tournament. Each game, we get better and better. We are always looking to improve. Our main focus is on defense. When we all work together and rotate, our defense is unbeatable, and that is when our offense is clicking the best.”
On Saturday, Jan. 28, the Panthers will take on first-place California Lutheran University (11-6, 7-1) in an important home matchup that gives the Panthers the chance to challenge for a SCIAC top two spot.
The Regals are undefeated in their last four games going into Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Chapman’s Harold Hutton Sports Center, but Chapman will have reason to be confident going into the game. The Panthers were the last team to beat Cal Lutheran back on Jan. 11 in a dramatic 70-68 away win for Chapman.
“Playing Cal Lutheran is always exciting,” Hum-Nishikado said. “Last game, we had a huge comeback and we were able to take the win. The game this weekend will be very intense, but I’m confident that we will come out on Saturday strong.”