With a winning record up for grabs, the men’s basketball team handily defeated Cal Lutheran University 73-54 Tuesday at the Hutton Sports Center. It was a bittersweet night for the Panthers, who close out the season above the .500 mark but fail to qualify for postseason playoffs.
In wake of the excitement of its first SCIAC season, sophomore guard Taylor Hamasaki said the team isn’t satisfied with the early end.
“We have played up and down all season and we just didn’t put it together it time,” Hamasaki said.
Chapman (13-12, 8-8) comfortably held the fourth place SCIAC seed earlier in the season but after a string of five losses, the Panthers dropped to sixth place.
“We have gone through periods of playing good defense, but lacking offense at the same time. Then we go through streaks of the opposite,” said head coach Mike Bokosky.
The game against Cal Lutheran (10-15, 6-10) was an offensive highlight for Chapman, with the team racking in over 70 points for the eighth time this season.
“Our offense was clicking tonight. It’s been a while since we have scored that well,” Hamasaki said.
The Panthers shot 52 percent from the field and were easily able to separate themselves from the stale second-half Kingsmen’s defense. With a boost from offensive rebounding efforts, the Panthers grabbed 15 rebounds to Cal Lutheran’s nine.
Though the teams went into halftime separated by merely one point, it was Chapman who seemed to boast the most confidence on the court. Cal Lutheran managed to shoot just 46 percent from the field and quickly crumbled under the Panthers’ pressure.
With the season now over, freshman forward Davis Dragovich looks to turn the team’s attention to preparing for next season.
“We didn’t want the season to end this way obviously. But there are positives that came from the losses that we will build on,” Dragovich said.
With a roster of just three graduating seniors, Bokosky plans to continue to build the youth off the team and sees this offseason as critical.
“The recruiting class can make or break you,” Bokosky said. “Nothing is better than competition and having young players fighting for spots is what keeps a team developing.”
The players also see what work needs to be done to better make their mark in conference competition.
“We really have to work on our consistency. We know what this league is like now and we can build on that,” Hamasaki said.
With a full-fledged plunge into SCIAC play under the Panthers’ belts, Bokosky expects more consistency in the upcoming season.
“I don’t want to see those lulls in our game next season. We have to get a crisp offense together and keep building on the defense we already have,” Bokosky said.