The Chapman men’s basketball team lost 64-52 at the California Institute of Technology on Thursday, Jan. 26, extending the Panthers’ losing streak to five games. The loss means that the Panthers now sit in seventh place at the halfway point of their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) regular season, currently outside of playoff position.
Junior forward James Taylor led the Panthers (7-10, 2-6) with 13 points and eight rebounds, while junior guard Rob Nelsen was the Panthers’ next highest scorer with a 10-point performance in a game in which the Panthers trailed throughout.
“We need to find ways to win,” Nelsen said. “Just because one of us isn’t having the best offensive game or we aren’t shooting the ball well, we must find a way to get more stops on the defensive end… We must play with a better, stronger mindset.”
The Panthers had a shooting performance of 30 percent in the first half, which came back to haunt them as the Beavers (5-12, 4-4) established a 33-23 halftime lead that Chapman was unable to come back from despite a better offensive performance in the second half.
“The area of our team that needs the most improvement would be our defense,” Taylor said. “Our offense has always been consistent, but when we play great defense as well, we are a really tough team to beat.”
Caltech senior guard Ricky Galliani and sophomore guard Brent Cahill each had big nights for the Beavers, leading their side with 15 points each. Caltech’s win further represents the progress made by the Beavers over the past few seasons to turn their once struggling program into one that is actively fighting for a playoff spot.
Nelsen said that despite the poor string of results, the Panthers’ work rate is not an issue.
“We have been hustling and playing hard, but we all understand that we have to make shots and play better defensively,” Nelsen said. “We played hard, but it just wasn’t good enough.”
The Panthers face California Lutheran University (12-5, 5-3) on Saturday at home at 4 p.m. in a game that the Panthers know is an opportunity to salvage their season. In their last matchup, the Kingsmen defeated Chapman 92-75 on Jan. 12.
“Cal Lutheran is a really good team, so we have to come into that game with a confident and gritty mindset,” Nelsen said. “To gain momentum for the rest of the season, we must play with a stronger mentality Saturday. We need to have a fierce personality on both sides of the ball.”
Taylor believes that shutting down Cal Lutheran’s offensive-focused guards will be a key to the game.
“We just gotta make sure to make it difficult for their shooters to get good looks at the basket and do our best to slow them down,” Taylor said. “I’m really excited to play them again.”