CLAREMONT, Calif. – It needed two extra periods. Ten back-and-forth minutes. After a 70-61 double overtime battle against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the Chapman University women's basketball team claimed the SCIAC Postseason Tournament title for the first time in school history.
Junior Jaryn Fajardo poured in 25 points, including 11 in the two extra periods, to go along with six assists, four rebounds and four steals. She was named the SCIAC Tournament MVP after her leading her team to the grueling victory.
Chapman took an early lead but CMS came back in the second quarter to take a 24-22 lead at halftime. The Athenas led for the entire third quarter until the Panthers made a late push to tie the game. Chapman ended the third on a 6-1 run over the final two minutes with Fajardo sinking a three-pointer and converting a three-point play in the final seconds to knot the game at 34-34.
Fajardo continued on her run with a jumper to open the fourth followed by a three from senior Jaime Hum-Nishikado, who finished the game with 10 points, to open a 40-35 lead. CMS countered with a 6-0 run of their own to regain a 41-40 lead on a layup from Mazelle Milan.
The teams traded free throws over the next three minutes as CMS clung to a 43-42 lead. Hum-Nishikado broke a three-and-a-half minute drought for both sides with a three-pointer that put Chapman up 45-43. CMS drew a foul to go to the line with hopes to tie the game. After a pair of missed free throws, Chapman was unable to corral the rebound. Another missed shot and another offensive rebound for Kate Parrish, who put back the tying bucket with seven seconds left.
The lead went back and forth through the first overtime. With less than a minute left, freshman Brittany McPherson knocked down a pair of free throws for a 53-50 Chapman lead. The Athenas hadn't hit a three-point shot all night but Corinne Bogle stepped back at the top of the arch to drain their only three of the night and tie the game at 53-53.
McPherson was able to get up a final shot but it rimmed out and the game went to double OT.
McPherson put the Panthers up two. Maya Love tied it up. Criswell put the Panthers back on top 57-55. She came up with a steal on the other end that led to another bucket for Fajardo and a 59-55 lead. Criswell scored again to give Chapman a six-point lead and CMS answered immediately.
With a four-point lead, CMS' Love fouled out and put Criswell on the line. Love led CMS all night, scoring 15 points, pulling down 19 rebounds, passing out four assists and coming up with two steals. Criswell knocked down both but CMS responded to keep it at a four-point game with less than a minute to go.
Fajardo delivered what proved to be the fatal blow with 27 seconds left when she knocked down her second three-pointer of the night to give Chapman its largest lead at 66-59. Fajardo and Hum-Nishikado knocked down all four free throws down the stretch to send Chapman into a frenzied celebration.
Fajardo was 9-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-8 at the line. Criswell finished with 16 points after being held to just three in the first half. McPherson had 14 points and senior Sydney Olivier pulled down 10 rebounds off the bench.
Chapman forced 21 turnovers and held CMS to 35.9 percent shooting. The Athenas outrebounded Chapman 53-28 and scored 21 second chance points.
The Panthers earn the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory and will find out their next game on Monday at 11:30 a.m. when the selection show airs on NCAA.com.