Led by a second-half three-point barrage, the men’s basketball team won its fourth straight game Nov. 28 at West Coast Baptist College. The 90-75 win was Chapman’s highest scoring game so far.
“It’s a good win for us,” said junior point guard Reed Nakakihara. “It’s a good learning experience as we continue to get better and realize every single game is not going to be easy.”
While Chapman never fell behind in the game, the team saw a 12-point first-half lead disappear in the second half. West Coast Baptist tied the game twice in the second half.
“(Coming into the game), we knew we were the favorite, and that kind of hurt us,” Nakakihara said. “We didn’t come out with enough energy, but it’s a good game for us to learn from and keep getting better.”
The turning point came when junior guard Josh Mendoza hit three straight three-point shots in the second half, giving Chapman a nine-point lead. Despite playing 16 minutes – eighth among the 12 Chapman players who played – Mendoza led the team with 23 points, making six of seven three-pointers during the second half.
“We knew that this team was dangerous and could get hot in their gym. It was close throughout until Mendoza hit a bunch of threes, which gave us some energy,” Nakakihara said. “We went up by as many as 24. Our defense was much better, as well.”
Prior to the game, Mendoza had logged just four total minutes through Chapman’s first three games.
“My role is to be a shooter, so the first thing I do is look for an open shot,” Mendoza said. “I haven’t gotten to play a lot up until this point, so this was my chance to make my mark for the team and try and bring some type of spark.”
Chapman is still acclimating to the new roster this season, feeling out the patterns of its teammates and new team members.
“We just have to take it day-by-day, and focus on the small steps and the big picture will come along. We’re all starting to get more comfortable playing alongside each other,” Nakakihara said.
This need is especially apparent when it comes to defense, Nakakihara said.
“I think we just need to be more consistent with it,” Nakakihara said. “We have flashes where we are pretty good and then there are times where we’re struggling on the defensive end and that’s unacceptable.”
Chapman will play La Sierra University for the second time this season on Dec. 2 at La Sierra.
“(We need to focus) on just our defense,” Nakakihara said. “It’s going to be another tough game and we have to be ready to play a complete game against a team who wants to beat us.”