The men’s basketball team’s seven-game winning streak, which catapulted it into the NCAA tournament, came to an end when the Panthers traveled to No. 20 University of Texas at Dallas.
They came up short in their first round playoff game, falling to the Comets by a score of 85-70 Friday night and ending their season.
“We played a great team tonight,” said junior guard Garrett James. “We’ve been a pretty good away team all year, but we struggled defensively tonight.”
Texas-Dallas (26-3) played a very efficient first half offensively, steadily building its lead and taking a 45-32 advantage into halftime. Senior forward Tyler Schleigh scored 18 of his team-high 24 points in the first half, converting seven of his nine shot attempts.
Chapman (18-10) was never able to make a run in the second half, falling down by as many as 21 points with six minutes to play.
Junior guard Colin Zavrsnick, who was named to the All-SCIAC first team earlier in the week, scored a game-high 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting. Zavrsnick averaged 18.4 points per game in the regular season, which led the SCIAC.
“Of course I’m disappointed that we didn’t go further, but it’s an experience to get here,” Zavrsnick said.
Junior guard Taylor Hamasaki, an All-SCIAC second team honoree, scored 12 points on the night.
“It has been an incredible journey. We are all proud of what we have accomplished as a team,” Hamasaki said. “Yes, we are all disappointed that our season has come to an end, but we made it extremely far and are a talented group.”
Chapman was able to make it to the NCAA tournament by winning its final seven games. The last two came in the SCIAC tournament when the Panthers blew out both Pomona-Pitzer and California Lutheran to earn the SCIAC championship, and the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team,” James said. “Ending with a seven-game win streak, a SCIAC championship, and having the opportunity to travel to Texas to play in the NCAA tournament is a great way to go out.”
Chapman will try to repeat this season’s success, as the team only graduates two seniors, forward Nick Dragovich and guard Brendon Rider.
“We’re definitely going to miss Dragovich and Rider. They were great teammates who led by example,” James said.