PASADENA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2015) – Junior Stephanie Wong (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) carried the Caltech women's basketball team with a third-straight double-figure scoring effort as the Beavers dropped a SCIAC battle with Chapman University, 89-53, on Saturday evening.
Wong poured in a game-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting for her most efficient game with double-figure attempts of the season. Despite the Beavers outshooting their opponent, 51-47 percent from the field and 50-41 percent beyond the arc, they could not overcome a season-high 36 turnovers to the Panthers' mere 13, which led to a whopping 41-shot difference. Chapman improved to 6-7 overall and 4-1 in the SCIAC with the win, while Caltech is now 0-16 (0-7).
"The ladies did a great job on a night when our roster size presented a challenge, with just seven healthy players and early foul trouble for another," Head Coach Sandra Marbut said. "I am proud of how hard we fought and played through the adversity tonight. You could see us hit a wall of fatigue and that's when Chapman widened the gap, but we gave it all we could tonight. What more can you ask than that?"
Caltech came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as sophomore Kate Lewis (San Antonio, Texas / Ronald Reagan) scored 10 of the Beavers' first 12 points within the opening five minutes, leading to a 12-12 tie at the 15:20 mark. The Panthers' full-court deny defense finally threw the Beavers out of their rhythm, however, and Chapman scored 10 straight points over the next four minutes to take a 22-12 lead. Wong and Lewis continued to shoulder the load for Caltech at both ends of the floor, but the Panthers still led 31-14 with 9:32 left before halftime.
Senior Bridget Connor (Albuquerque, N.M. / Albuquerque Acad.) and sophomore Mary Boyajian (Sun Valley, Calif. / Village Christian) sank a combined five free throws over the ensuing few minutes to offer some support for Caltech's dynamic duo, and junior Esther Du (Walnut, Calif. / Troy) chipped in late with a pair of baskets to help Caltech pull back to a 14-point deficit at 44-30 by the break.
After a slow start to the second half, Wong and her sister Michelle Wong (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. / Palos Verdes Peninsula) combined for seven unanswered points over a one-minute span to trim the deficit back to 12 at 50-38 with 16:14 left to play. That was as close as Caltech would come, though, as Chapman surged ahead to a game-high lead of 44 before an eight-point flurry, including the Beavers' only treys of the game by Boyajian and Michelle Wong, brought the final margin down to 36 at 89-53 by the final whistle.
Wong added six rebounds, three steals, one assist and one block to her stat line while Lewis finished with a typical all-around line of 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks despite playing just 22 minutes before fouling out. Four other Beavers added six each, with Du's coming on 3-of-6 shooting, while junior Kristin Anderson (Folsom, Calif. / St. Francis) did not attempt a shot but still contributed six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
"Stephanie really stepped up and did a great job when Kate was unavailable," Marbut said. "Kate got off to a great start before the foul trouble, and that shifted the focus to a full deny on Stephanie, and she put together a game-high performance anyway."
Marbut and the Beavers will head to nearby rival Occidental College (2-12, 0-5) on Wednesday, Jan. 21 for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.