By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
RAFU SPORTS EDITOR
ORANGE.–It seems Lauren Kamiyama is determined to play until her legs simply fall off.
The senior guard for Chapman University was sprawled on the floor, wincing in pain at least three times during Wednesday’s overtime thriller against Occidental at Chapman. Kamiyama eventually had to be carried off the floor for good with under a minute in OT, but not before sinking a three-point shot that cemented a 70-65 win for her Panthers, in the first-round of the NCAA Div. III Championships. Kamiyama’s three followed a field goal by junior Linda Ly, that broke a 64-64 tie.
Kamiyama led all scorers with 24, while Ly finished with 13. Oxy guard Britinee Yasukochi, whose foul shot with under a minute in regulation brought the Tigers to within a point of Chapman, scored three with two assists. Kamiyama was all over the court, determined that this would not be the final game of her college career. In addition to four steals, she blocked a layup by Yasukochi, but was called for a foul.
“I blocked her shot clean,” she attested afterward. “I really did not foul her at all.”
Kamiyama added that her performance was not only an effort to win, but also to inspire her team.
“We’re really young this year, as a team. I try to get them involved as much as possible, because they need to experience a big-time game, when the pressure’s on.”
For Kamiyama family and fans, it was another painful night of spectating. In the fourth quarter, she tumbled to the floor after having her right knee twisted from behind by falling teammate Ly–the same Linda Ly, who in a high school game fell across Kamiyama’s other knee, leading to ligament tears and a year off after surgery.
“That scared me so bad,” Ly said of the collision that left her teammate rolling in agony. “I didn’t even want to look.”
Chapman advances to face a familiar foe in Oregon tonight, George Fox University, in the second round of the playoffs. The Bruins have had the Panthers’ number in recent history, knocking them out of the NCAA tournament in 2008 and sounding thumping them last December by a 30-point margin. Fox went undefeated in the regular season and is ranked third in the nation in Div. III.
Ly said with their next opponent, there is no room for error.
“We have to play our best game, that’s all there is to it,” she said. “Tonight, we had seven stops in overtime and we did what it took to win the game, but we can play better.”
Kamiyama added that boxing out is a must and that Chapman will need to control the defensive rebounds to be successful. As fans, players and staff filed out of the gymnasium after the game, Kamiyama reclined in the stands, ice wrapped around the right knee and her left backside, which she bruised on the fall after colliding with Ly.
Kamiyama’s grandmother, who attend all of her home games, said, “I don’t like those close games,” to which the Chapman senior replied, “It’s okay, Grandma