After winning their first 16 games, the 15th ranked Chapman Panthers’ men’s basketball team (16-2, 7-2) has dropped each of the last two games.
Chapman’s first loss of the season came on the road at California Lutheran (13-4, 7-2) 69-66 Thursday, and then to Pomona-Pitzer (6-12, 4-5) 89-87 in double overtime Saturday.
With the two losses, Chapman now sits in a three-way tie with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-4, 7-2) and Cal Lu.
“We didn’t play our best against Cal Lu, we came out slow in both halves,” said senior guard Colin Zavrsnick.
The Kingsmen defense held Chapman’s offense in check, holding the Panther’s potent offense, that was third in the nation in field goal percentage entering the game, to 44.1 percent shooting.
Chapman held a 33-32 lead at half time, but Cal Lu went on an 8-0 run to start the half and never gave the lead back. Cal Lu’s lead hit its peak at 51-37 with 11:34 remaining in the game. Chapman would chip away at the lead, cutting to 68-66 with 35 seconds left on a made free throw by senior guard Taylor Hamasaki. Following a made free throw by Cal Lu junior guard Lanaki Apele, Chapman had three attempts at a 3-pointer to tie, but missed all three.
“We need to be more consistent on the defensive end and then rebound better,” Zavrsnick said. “If we can play every possession like its our last then we can do really well for the rest of the season.”
Zavrsnick led Chapman with 19 points, and was joined in double figures by senior forward Justin Young with 11 points. Young also pulled down a team high ten rebounds.
“Everyone wants to be the team that takes out that top team,” Hamasaki said.
Chapman struggled from the line, making 6-12 from the strip.
The Panther’s free throw shooting woes continued against Pomona-Pitzer, when Chapman shot 12-21 and lost by two.
Chapman had played in another very close game against the Sagehens Jan. 13, with Chapman winning 58-56.
“They have very good guards and post men that matchup well against us,” Zavrsnick said.
Chapman faced an uphill battle after falling behind 38-29 at the half, and continued to trail during nearly all of the second half. Pomona-Pitzer pulled out to a 65-52 lead with 6:43 remaining before Chapman mounted its comeback.
A layup by Young with two seconds remaining sent the game into its first overtime.
After Chapman trailed the entire half only to tie the game at the end, Chapman controlled the overtime period before a 3-pointer from senior guard Adrian Brandon tied the game at 79 sending the game to the second overtime.
Pomona-Pitzer controlled the second overtime, extending the lead to four on two separate occasions. But, a Zavrsnick three and a made free throw by senior center John Joyce tied the game at 87-87. On the following possession, Brandon corralled an offensive rebound and put the ball back in giving Pomona the victory.
Zavrsnick, 24, and Hamasaki, 22, paced the Panthers offensively. Joyce, 15 points 10 rebounds, collected a double-double. Young scored 11 points shooting five-10 from the free throw line and playing 46 of the 50 minutes.
Zavrsnick is second in the SCIAC averaging 19.8 points-per-game.
Chapman will have a chance to knock off one of the teams it is tied with when the Panthers travel to Claremont 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to take on the Stags. Chapman’s next home game comes against Occidental 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Were ready to bounce back,” Hamasaki said. “We know that we have the talent.”