Men’s basketball loses final game of season, finishes in eighth place

Sophomore forward Jasper Verduin (left) and junior guard Luke Selway (right) block a shot against Occidental. Photo by Bonnie Cash

The Chapman men’s basketball team ended its season with a 60-49 senior night loss to Occidental College Feb. 21. The Panthers finished in eighth place – the lowest the team has finished since joining the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in 2012.

“Tonight’s game summed up our entire season,” said sophomore guard Reed Nakakihara. “We just were not able to put together a consistent effort for 40 minutes.”

The Panthers’ two seniors, forwards James Griffin and Josh Cohan, got a standing ovation from the crowd with a minute left in the game.

The crowd cheers as the senior players leave the court after their last home game. Photo by Bonnie Cash

“It was beautiful,” Griffin said. “A lot of memories were created in that gym. It was nice to get that final game and get some closure, just to end this chapter and start a new one. We knew that this was the last time that us 16 guys would be together for one last game, so (the goal was) just to have fun with each other and play for each other.”

Griffin finished his final collegiate game with four points and five rebounds, while Cohan had 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Panthers (10-15, 5-11) went into halftime with a 31-26 lead, but Occidental (14-11, 6-10) outscored them 34-18 in the second half to take the victory. The Tigers finished their season in fifth place.

The team’s season ended earlier than preseason polls would have suggested, with the Panthers entering this season as favorites to win the SCIAC after winning the conference last season. However, star sophomore guard Cam Haslam only played in one SCIAC game before he was ruled out for the season with a meniscus injury, and the Panthers struggled in his absence.

“We came (into this season) projected at No. 1 overall, and obviously we didn’t fulfill those dreams this year,” Griffin said. “I think that the sky’s the limit for these guys. They definitely should be doing well in the conference and hopefully get an NCAA (tournament) berth (next year).”

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