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Women’s basketball lose for first time

Occidental defender Elizabeth Messick (44) swipes the ball away from sophomore guard Andrea Villanueva (32) during Saturday night’s home loss. Photo by Adam Ottke

The women’s basketball team (5-1, 1-1) had its first loss of the season, falling 68-59 to Occidental College in the Hutton Sports Center Saturday evening.

The Panthers fell behind early and struggled to catch up to the Tigers, trailing for almost the entire game.

“We had a few breakdowns during the game,” said junior guard Kimi Takaoka, who led the team, scoring 23 points. “We didn’t get the loose balls and we couldn’t seem to find all the right shots.”

The Panthers struggled in the first half but a late push saw them within one point going into halftime.

But Occidental was able to pull way with a large contribution coming from senior guard Makenzie Brandon.

“Chapman is the type of team we train for,” said Occidental Head Coach Anahit Aladzhanyan. “They set the standard for the league and we were happy to get the win today.”

Head Coach Carol Jue was impressed by the way the Tigers were able to attack the Panthers throughout the game.

“Occidental is our biggest rival and they put it all on the court,” Jue said. “We played with good intensity but we just didn’t manage to catch up with them.”

Occidental outplayed Chapman in transition, moving down the court quickly on the fastbreak. The Panthers at times looked unable to keep up with the Tigers.

“With all the games at the start of the season it’s hard to stay in shape,” Jue said. “Having our center Sandra [Gao] out injured made a big difference on the scoreboard.”

The Panthers struggled from the free throw line, shooting 56.5 percent from the line compared to Occidental’s 80 percent.

The Panthers came into the game with confidence, having beaten Pomona-Pitzer 66-52 in the SCIAC opener Thursday.

It was a game Chapman expected to win, but it did not end up being as easy as planned.

“We knew they were going to be one of the easier games but we needed to press them,” said senior guard Emily McCoy. “It took us a while to get into the game, but by the second half we picked it up.”

As the team now starts to get into the flow of the SCIAC season, members realize that consistency will be crucial.

“We are going to have to stay mentally strong,” McCoy said. “We are competing for a league title this year, which we haven’t done, so we have to remember what we are playing for.”

Both teams emphasized the strength of the SCIAC conference.

“The league is definitely better than previous years,” Aladzhanyan said. “The level of talent has gone up across the board.”

Takaoka echoed Aladzhanyan, but said that she thinks the Chapman team has what it takes to make it among such strong competition.

“There are a lot of good teams but I think we can beat them,” she said. “We have to focus on our defense, but we can beat these teams.”

Chapman next travels to face SCIAC opponent Whittier College Dec. 6. at 7:30 p.m.

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