ORANGE, Calif. – In its last regular season home game, the Chapman University women's basketball team defeated Whittier, 81-55 on Saturday night at the Hutton Sports Center. The Panthers notched their seventh straight win, finishing their home schedule with an 8-1 mark.
Chapman clinched one of the four spots in the SCIAC postseason tournament with the win and took over sole possession of second place heading into the final week of the regular season. With just one game remaining against last-place Caltech, the Panthers can finish no worse than a tie for fourth place and owns the tiebreaker against both Occidental and La Verne.
Chapman put together one of its strongest offensive halves of the season in the first, taking a 48-23 lead into halftime. The Panthers shot 61.5 percent (16-for-26) from the field over the first 20 minutes and was even better from the free throw line where they were sent with regularity, shooting 88.2 percent (15-for-17).
It was a 13-0 run in just 2:41 off the clock early in the first half that gave Chapman a 19-4 advantage out of the gates. Freshman F Sandra Gao completed a three-point play in the midst of that run on her way to 11 first-half points. The Panthers also finished the period strong, using a 12-2 run to close out the half.
Junior G Kimi Takaoka scored 18 of her game-high 24 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. In her last two games, Takaoka has combined for 46 points in just 50 minutes played.
Facing a large deficit, the Whittier Poets fortified their defense and limited the Panthers to just 36.7 percent shooting in the second half. The Panthers stretched their lead to as much as 32 points, but outscored the Poets in the second half by just one point, 33-32. Whittier slowed Chapman by taking advantage of 14 second-chance points, including eight from F Alex Coon, who scored 10 of her team-high 15 points after the break.
Despite being slowed by the Poets in the second half, the Panthers still finished with their largest margin of victory in a SCIAC game this season.
Playing in their last regular season games at the Hutton Sports Center, seniors Anne Yoshimura and Emily McCoy were honored prior to Saturday's game. McCoy finished the contest with 10 points while Yoshimura added seven.
With a spot in the postseason tournament already reserved, the Panthers will look to extend their seven-game win streak in their final game of the regular season, Feb. 14 at Caltech.
by Ryan Cavinder
Sports Information Assistant