THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Fans watching Cal Lutheran and Chapman go toe-to-toe Saturday would have sworn they were having déjà vu. The last time the Regals and Panthers met back on December 15, Cal Lutheran led by seven points before Chapman rallied with nine points in the final minutes to complete a 75-71 comeback victory.
Thursday night, Cal Lutheran again led by seven points with a little over six minutes to go and again Chapman came back, this time cutting the lead to one at 50-49 after Emily McCoy hit two free-throws.
But the Regals wouldn’t let the crowd of over 300 see a re-run. With the shot-clock running out, Starla Wright corralled a rebound after a desperation three from Keeley Anderson and put back in giving CLU a 52-49 lead with 20 seconds left. Chapman would get a three-point look but the shot sailed wide and CLU came out with their eighth-straight victory.
Things did not start so franticly however.
The first half was marred by sloppy play as the teams combined for 28 turnovers. Leading 9-7 with 13:23 left to play in the half, Cal Lutheran finally broke through going on a 9-0 run over the next six minutes.
However, Chapman wouldn’t go into halftime quietly as they scored six straight points. The run was capped by Sandra Gao who first scored a fast break lay-up. Then the freshman stole the following CLU in-bounds pass and hit a lay-up, shrinking the Regals lead to 30-25.
Rachel Heagy would counter with a lay-up of her own on the last possession of the half as the teams headed to the locker rooms with Cal Lutheran leading 32-25.
Cal Lutheran started off out of the halftime break with six points coming from Wright and Heagy through the first five minutes giving CLU their largest lead of the game at 11.
The Panthers would waste no time in storming back into the game. Following Heagy’s basket, Chapman went on a 9-0 run led by Gao’s five points and got to within one at 46-45 with 6:42 left to play.
Heagy would give Cal Lutheran some breathing room initially, scoring back-to-back baskets but Chapman kept hanging around, finally capitalizing on a Regal turnover. McCoy was fouled on the Panther possession and hit both of her free-throws, bringing the lead back to one at 50-49.
The Regals came down the floor and struggled to get an open look before finally settling for Anderson’s desperation three-pointer as the shot clock hit one. The shot caromed right to Wright under the hoop and the senior put it, pushing the Regals lead to 52-49 with 24 seconds left.
Chapman would have one final possession but the CLU defense stepped and forced an off-balance three-pointer from Lauren Sato that sailed wide as time as expired and Cal Lutheran escaped with the win.
The Regals were led by Heagy’s 15 points. Wright nearly had her fourth double-double in her last seven games, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds. Anderson was third on the team with eight points while Channing Fleischmann hauled in seven rebounds.
The Panthers were led offensively by Gao, who scored 17 points. Andrea Villanueva chipped in with 12.
With the win Cal Lutheran improves to 15-2 overall and stays atop the SCIAC standings with an 8-1 league record. After the loss, the Panthers fall to 12-5 overall and 4-4 in the SCIAC.
The Regals will return to action next Thursday, Jan. 24, when they travel to Redlands, taking on the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m.