The 22nd-ranked Chapman men’s basketball team ended a two game losing skid with a 65-62 overtime victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the road Tuesday and a 94-66 blowout home victory over Occidental Saturday.
The victory puts the Panthers (18-2, 8-2) in a tie for first place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) with California Lutheran (15-4, 9-2).
“We really stressed defense, the importance of getting stops and playing good team defense,” said senior guard Taylor Hamasaki. “We had very crucial stops at the end of the game that led to turnovers and really helped us pull out that win today.”
The Stags (14-5, 7-3) were able to pull away for an eight-point lead midway through the second half, but Chapman came back to force overtime when senior guard Colin Zavrsnick made a layup with one second remaining. The Panthers were able to close it out in overtime thanks to two free throws from Hamasaki.
Senior forward Justin Young paced the Panthers, leading the team with 16 points, and Hamasaki added 14. Young also contributed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Though the Panthers were out-rebounded by the Stags, they made up for it on the defensive end, forcing 12 turnovers and scoring 12 points off of turnovers.
Despite the team’s progress, Zavrsnick said the team can improve its work on the defensive end.
“We’re at where we should be on the offensive side, but need to improve defense and rebounding,” he said.
Chapman cruised over Occidental (9-10, 5-6), thanks in large part to a season-high 29 points from Hamasaki.
Hamasaki praised his coaches and teammates for their role in his individual production.
“I like to make the best basketball plays possible. I have great teammates who are always telling me to be aggressive, and I have to thank my coaches and teammates for putting me in a position to score like that,” Hamasaki said.
Though the Tigers were able to keep it close early, Chapman pulled away midway through the first half and never looked back, leading by as many as 31 points. The Panthers maintained their lead with efficient shooting, putting up a field goal percentage of 60 percent and a 3-point percentage of 52.9 percent.
Senior forward Jordan Young also added 17 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting. Colin Zavrsnick led the Panthers in rebounds with nine.
The Panthers showed a great deal of energy on the defensive end, forcing 19 turnovers and holding the Tigers to four assists on the game.
Hamasaki called the Panthers’ defense “a great team effort.”
“People were there to help each other off the dribble, and people were there for others,” he said.
Chapman’s next contest is a home matchup against Whittier (12-8, 6-5) 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.