ORANGE, Calif. – A huge first quarter and a career-high from sophomore Lucy Criswell led the Chapman University women's basketball team to a 73-61 win over Hope International on Thursday. The Panthers (14-3) won for the second night in a row and ran their winning streak to seven games.
Chapman led wire-to-wire after Criswell knocked down her first of three three-pointers to open the scoring. The Panthers poured it on after Criswell's opening three and built a 23-10 lead after the first quarter. Senior Jaime Hum-Nishikado hit three threes and converted a four-point play to score 10 of her 13 points in the opening quarter.
The Panthers defense forced the Royals (13-6) into seven first quarter turnovers while Hope International shot just 25 percent. The Royals turned things around in the second quarter, draining three shots beyond the arc and shooting 40 percent. However, the Panthers continued to build on their lead.
Hope International caught fire in the third quarter but not before the Panthers had increased their lead to as much as 20 points on sophomore Paige Endo's layup early in the quarter. The Royals slowly chipped away and cut the lead down to double digits in the fourth quarter on Julia Pihl's three-pointer with 6:03 to go.
Freshman Brittany McPherson responded for Chapman when she drove to the basket and was fouled as she banked in the layup. She converted the three-point play to put Chapman back up by 12. The Royals were never able to get closer than 10 the rest of the way as Chapman held off the comeback attempt.
Junior Jaryn Fajardo scored 14 points for the Panthers with seven rebounds and a pair of assists. Criswell also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Junior Sydney Olivier grabbed nine boards off the bench to go with her six points. Senior Irma Munoz also pulled down nine rebounds, scored six points and had six assists.
Emma Forel led the Royals with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Rhiana Dougan contributed 17 points off the bench.
The Panthers win streak reached a season-long seven games with Chapman winning six of the seven games by at least 12 points. They take their win streak into a long break as they won't be back on the floor until Wednesday when they visit Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m.