Regals See Season Conclude in SCIAC Postseason Tournament Semifinal
CLU drops heartbreaker to Chapman
ORANGE, Calif. – For the fourth straight season the Cal Lutheran and Chapman women’s basketball teams met in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament. Coming into the contest with identical overall records, tonight, the Panthers earned the right to play another day with a 66-64 victory at the Hutton Center on the campus of CU.
The two programs have made a habit of meeting in the postseason, playing in the first round each of the last four years, including 2017, and facing off in the championship game in 2013. Unfortunately for the Regals, tonight the host Panthers pulled out the win, ending the Cal Lutheran season after an exciting playoff game.
Despite a three-and-a-half hour bus ride senior Janelle Porter forced a turnover, got a steal and layed the ball in for the first points of the evening. The teams would never be separated by more than four points in the first frame and after trailing most of the time, CLU got a half court buzzer beater from Natalie Ruhl to put the Violet and Gold ahead 20-18 after the first 10 minutes.
The second stanza saw more of the same as the teams exchanged baskets throughout, but at the intermission Chapman had the upper hand with a 32-30 advantage. Although CLU trailed going into the locker rooms, the Regals shot at a slightly higher clip, 39.4 percent from the field, than CU (38.7 percent), but a 4-for-8 three-point showing for the Panthers was the difference as the Regals combined to go just 3-for-11 from distance.
Chapman stayed hot after the break, pouring in the first nine points of the third period before the Regals found a rhythm. A quick timeout for Cal Lutheran allowed the team to regroup and a second chance layup from Makenna Murray got the visiting squad on the board in the second half to spark a 9-0 run and pull the Violet and Gold within a pair. Porter put in a three just before time expired in the period to make it a one possession game.
In the fourth the score continued to teeter-totter and both sides had ample opportunities, but at the end of the night it was a pair of free-throws from the Panthers that made the different. The score was tied multiple times throughout the quarter and CLU earned three possessions in 10 seconds with under a minute to play and Katy Lindor downed a three on an inbound pass from Sofia Cruz to tie things, yet again, at 64-64 with 37.8 seconds to play. Though the final CLU shot hit the rim, it was CU that celebrated after free-throws helped the home team take the final lead of the night seconds earlier.
During the regular season, Chapman defeated Cal Lutheran twice by 70-68 and 70-58 margins home and away, respectively.
Leading the way in her final collegiate game was Porter who produced a game-high 19 points as the only CLU player in double figures. Both Cruz and Jessica Salottolo scored eight in her final appearance for the Violet and Gold and Cruz added a game-best five assists. Senior teammates Lindor and Haley Hodgson combined for 15 rebounds as Hodgson pulled down a game-high nine. Porter finished with five steals and the sixth senior on the roster, Taylor Messick, recorded the only block of the game.
Chapman (17-9) put three players in double figure scoring with Lauren Sato and Jaryn Fajardo each scoring 16 and Megan Charles adding 12.
Cal Lutheran (16-10) finished shooting 39.7 percent, including 7-for-21 from three-point land. The team combined to go 7-for-12 at the charity stripe tonight. Defensively, the Regals out rebounded the Panthers 36-35 with 12 offensive boards and earned seven steals by forcing 13 turnovers while committing just eight. CLU bids farewell to six seniors.
Box Score: CU 66, CLU 64
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