THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Holding a 10-point lead with under eight minutes to play, the George Fox University Bruins could not hold off a suddenly-sizzling Chapman University team and dropped a 56-46 decision to the Panthers in the Posada Royale Thanksgiving Women's Basketball Classic Friday evening here at California Lutheran University's Gilbert Arena.
It was the second straight setback for the Bruins (0-2), who entered the season ranked No. 2 in the nation but are currently playing without two-time All-America center Hannah Munger, still recovering from off-season knee surgery. The Panthers improved to 3-0 and won for the first time in nine all-time meetings with the Bruins.
Hayley Cusick nailed a three-pointer to open the game for the Bruins before Kimi Takaoka and Sandra Gao scored baskets to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead, the only time they led in the first half. A three by Jami Roos put the Bruins back in front, and they gradually stretched their advantage to an 11-point bulge of 25-14 following a trey by Dacia Heckendorf with 5:07 to go in the period.
From that point on, the Bruins missed four shots and five out of seven free throws, enabling the Panthers to get back in the game and foreshadowing a similar slump at the end of the game. Chapman out-scored George Fox 13-4 in the final five minutes, Gao hitting three layups and a free throw for the Panthers' final seven points of the period and making it 29-27 Bruins at the break.
Cusick hit a jumper to open the second half before Emily McCoy completed a conventional three-point play, trimming the Panthers' deficit to 31-30 with 18:31 to go in the game. Over the next 11 minutes, the Bruin held the Panthers without a point, but only added nine of their own in that span, building a 40-30 lead on a layup by Megan Hays with 11:09 left.
The score was the same three minutes later - and then Takaoka took over. She hit three free throws at 7:27, then a three-pointer while being fouled and added the free throw to trim the Bruin lead to 40-37 with 6:34 to go. Baskets by Megan Arnoldy and McKenzie Wolfe twice put the Bruins up by five, but another three by Takaoka and two McCoy free throws gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish of 45-44 with 3:42 to play.
Over the remaining time, the Bruins missed their last five shots as the Panthers out-scored them 11-2. Takaoka hit another three and two free throws and Lauren Sato hit four straight free throw attempts as the Panthers pulled away for the upset win.
George Fox out-shot Chapman .425 (17-40) to .327 (17-52) overall and .313 (5-16) to .231 (3-13) from three-point range, and out-rebounded the Panthers 37-26. The difference came at the free-throw line, where the Panthers sank .760 (19-25) to a meager .389 (7-18) for the Bruins, and in ball control, George Fox committing 35 turnovers to 22 for Chapman.
Takaoka had a game-high 23 points for the Panthers, 15 in the final eight minutes, Gao had a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards, and McCoy scored 11. McCoy also had five steals and Takaoka four.
NEXT: George Fox completes its southern California trip Saturday in the Posada Royale Classic against tournament host California Lutheran at 3:00 p.m., while Chapman takes on Carleton College at 5:00 p.m.