The men’s basketball team ended its back-to-back losing streak on Saturday with a 64-54 win over the California Institute of Technology at home.
The Panthers avenged a previous loss to the Beavers (6-16, 5-8) earlier in the season by scoring 41 points in the second half, compared to 30 from Caltech.
Thursday’s loss against Pomona-Pitzer eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention, but players said that the remaining games in the season were about going out on a high note.
“It was just a lot of fun,” said sophomore point guard Reed Nakakihara after Saturday’s game. “We came out together and held each other accountable. It made a big difference.”
Nakakihara led the Panthers with 15 points, 12 of which occurred after halftime.
Caltech started off the game strong with a basket off the jump, but were trading off leads with the Panthers throughout the first half. A 3-point buzzer beater by Caltech freshman guard Bret Johnson changed the lead for the eighth time, clinching the lead at halftime with a score of 24-23. The lead would change 13 times throughout the game.
A sequence of back-to-back 3-pointers from the Panthers, followed by a steal and another field goal, set the stage for Chapman to pull away in the second half.
“As a collective, we stayed focused,” Nakakihara said. “Our season didn’t exactly go the way we wanted it to this year, with not making playoffs, but we’re not a team that gives up.”
The men pulled away in the final minutes of the second half and had the only double-digit lead in the game with less than a minute to go.
Junior forward James Taylor led the team with five rebounds and junior guard Luke Selway led assists with four. Senior center Nasser Al-Rayes led Caltech in points, rebounds and assists.
Caltech was the first win for Chapman since losses to Pomona-Pitzer and the University of La Verne last week. Chapman is 5-8 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with three more games to play in the season. The Panthers will end the season with their senior night on Feb. 21 at home against Occidental College.