By: Chris Due - Athletic Media Relations Director
LUBBOCK, Texas (March 1, 2014) – The nets were cut down inside Rip Griffin Center Saturday afternoon, as the Lubbock Christian University Lady Chaparrals completed a perfect 20-0 Heartland Conference record and set the conference single-season wins mark in a 90-66 win over St. Edward’s University.
With the Lady Chaps ineligible for NCAA Div. II postseason play and the Heartland Conference not allowing transitioning schools to participate in the conference tournament, Saturday’s game served as the season finale for LCU. This season, transitioning schools were allowed to be included in the conference standings and LCU’s 20-0 conference mark is a conference best. The 20 wins in conference is a new conference record and LCU is the first team to go unbeaten in conference play since St. Mary’s University completed the task during the 2007-2008 season. The 20-0 finish in conference marks the third time the Lady Chaps have finished with the conference’s best record and it is the first time in program history they finished undefeated in conference play. They complete their season on a 23-game win streak and with an overall mark of 25-1 to set a program single season record in losses (least amount) and win percentage (96.1%). Following the game, the Lady Chaps cut down the nets to commemorate their achievement for having the best record in the Heartland Conference. It is technically the first time ever in program history in which the Lady Chaps have cut down the nets, as they were unable to do so at the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament last season after claiming their first SAC Tournament title.
LCU never trailed in the contest. They led 12-7 early in the game and SEU came back to tie the game at 13-13 just over five minutes into the contest. LCU went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes. They would lead 25-15 with 10:42 remaining in the first half and before the Hilltoppers responded to rally and tie the game at 31-31 with 3:36 to go in the half. Kelsey Hoppel nailed a three-pointer and jumpstarted an 11-0 run and an eventual 42-32 lead at the half. Hoppel led LCU with 17 points in the half and Mileka Loydrake led SEU with 15 points. The two players were each on fire, as Hoppel was 6-of-7 from the field in the half and Loydrake opened the game making five of her first six shot attempts.
LCU’s 11-1 run to close the half carried over into a 21-1 run in the second half, as Emily Pool and Hoppel each connected on three-point field goals to start the second half and LCU led 52-32 with 17:29 remaining. Seniors Emily Pool (11 points in the second half) and Kaycie Boyles (10 points in the second half) each had solid second half and helped LCU’s lead in the half remain 17 points or greater. They led as much as 30 (90-60 with 1:57 remaining) in the game.
Hoppel led all scorers with a season-high 23 points. She was 8-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from long range. LCU outscored SEU 40-20 in the paint and mostly due to an 18-point outing by Boyles, who completed her fourth double-double of the season with 11 rebounds. Nicole Hampton also produced 18 points for LCU and was joined in double figures by Pool, who had 12 points. Loydrake led SEU with 19 points and Casey Riley produced 10 points. SEU fell to 17-8 overall and 12-7 with the loss.
The win closed an amazing 25-1 season for the Lady Chaps. Starters Hampton (14.5 points), Hoppel (14.4 points), Pool (14.2 points), Haley Burton (13.7 points) and Kaycie Boyles (11.8 points) started all 26 games on the season and each averaged over 10 points a game on the season. Hoppel set an LCU single season record for free-throw percentage at 93.8% (61-of-65), topping a 92.4% shooting mark by Hampton from the 2011-2012 season. The top six single season free-throw shooting percentages by an LCU individual have been completed since the 2009-2010 season. Hoppel was also 46.9% from three-point range, which is the second best single season mark in program history.
Saturday also served as Senior Day and seniors Boyles and Pool were recognized for their LCU careers. Boyles, a Lubbock native that spent three prior seasons at Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), started in all 26 games this season and averaged 11.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. She was 51.0% shooting from the field on the season. Pool’s 12 points Saturday moved her past Mamy N’Kolomoni (1,715 points from 1998-2002) and into third all-time in LCU career points with 1,725. She leaves ranked as the program’s leader in free-throws made (565) and free-throws attempted (725), fourth in field goals attempted (1,213) and fifth in three-pointers made (172) and attempted (458).
The game marked the first time LCU has completed a season with their final game played inside Rip Griffin Center. This season marks the first time since the 2002-2003 season in which they will not head to the NAIA National Tournament (no longer a NAIA member) and it is the first time since the 1987-1988 season in which they have not participated in a postseason conference or district/regional tournament. They do however have a 25-1 overall record and 20-0 conference record which future teams in the Heartland Conference will strive to duplicate.