After a bitter 60-54 road loss to Pomona-Pitzer in its SCIAC debut last week, the men’s basketball team collected its first conference win – and a fistful of retribution – in a 69-59 victory over Occidental College Saturday at the Hutton Sports Center. This was the fifth consecutive home win for Chapman, dating back to last season.
Head Coach Mike Bokosky attributes the shift in his team’s success to adaptation.
“In order to be successful in the game of basketball, it’s all about versatility,” Bokosky said. “You have to have the stamina of a runner, the finesse of a dancer and the power of a lineman. At the end of the day, it comes down to who has it and who doesn’t – tonight we had it.”
Chapman (2-2, 1-1) didn’t waste time with the visiting Tigers, gaining an early 7-1 lead less than three minutes in to the first half. Senior forward Colin Chadwick made two consecutive jump shots during the run and said that vigor is key for a strong start.
“[Bokosky] always talks about the importance of getting the energy on your side of the court, so we knew we had to keep the ball and tire them out early on,” Chadwick said.
Despite a 38-27 halftime cushion, Chapman’s pace didn’t slow. The Panthers kept a double-digit lead over Occidental (2-3, 0-2) for the bulk of the second half. It wasn’t until a 3-pointer by freshman guard Sebastian Ohara-Saft that the Tigers reached a single digit deficit, but Chapman maintained momentum, capping the score on two free throws by sophomore guard Jordan Young.
Four Panthers scored double figures in the win, highlighted by sophomore guard Colin Zavrsnick and junior forward Nick Dragovich with 13 points each. Young and Chadwick followed with 10 and 12 points, respectively.
Earlier in the week, Chapman dropped its SCIAC debut to the stifling first half defense of host Pomona-Pitzer (4-2, 1-1), staying scoreless for nearly two minutes until a Chadwick jump shot broke the silence to put the Panthers up 2-0. Despite the boost, the Sagehens went on to score 11 unanswered points, led by two consecutive free throws from sophomore guard Kyle McAndrews.
“We were having a lot of trouble defending them and they used that momentum as an advantage,” sophomore guard Taylor Hamasaki said.
The scoring streak proved fatal as Chapman trailed for the remainder of the half, with a dismal 23-13 deficit to open second half action. Pomona-Pitzer built its lead up to 12 points on four different occasions in the half, but the Panthers weren’t quick to fold. A late 3-pointer by Hamasaki narrowed the gap to 58-54 with just 1:17 left on the clock, but three missed 3-pointers sealed the team’s fate.
“Of course it was disappointing,” Zavrsnick said. “We just need to remember that we’re at the tip of the iceberg this season. It’s still early and there is a lot of room for growth and improvement.”
The Panthers travel to Whittier College Wednesday to face fellow SCIAC opponent Whittier College before returning home for a non-conference game against Vanguard University Saturday at 7:30 p.m.