The Chapman men’s basketball team (5-0) claimed an 85-65 home victory against Bristol (2-5) in a non-conference game, winning its fifth straight game.
The win included a special moment for senior guard Taylor Hamasaki, whose 23 points on the night allowed him pass the 1,000 point mark in his Chapman career, becoming the 16th Panther to do so.
“It means a lot to me being able to reach the 1,000 point milestone,” Hamasaki said. “It gives me a sense of accomplishment for all of the hard work and effort that I have put in over the years.”
The team shared in Hamasaki’s accomplishment.
“The crowd went crazy when he got the points and so did the bench,” said freshman guard Brian Watson. “It was really cool to see the support for him from the team and from the crowd.”
The milestone capped an already promising showing from the Panthers, who asserted themselves early by seizing a 15-5 lead five minutes into the contest. Though Bristol cut the Panthers’ lead to just five shortly before halftime, efficient shooting from Hamasaki led the Panthers into halftime with a 45-35 lead.
The Panthers opened the second half on a 10-2 run that further distanced themselves from the Bears, again through the efforts of Hamasaki and senior guard Colin Zavrsnick, who had 16 points. Zavrsnick is 22 career points away from joining Hamasaki in the 1,000 points club.
“Taylor’s 1000th point was a big standout,” Zavrsnick said. “Also our defense is getting better, and even though it’s not where we want it yet, we were playing with good energy.”
That energy propelled the Panthers’ offense to finish off the Bears, who did not come within 10 points of Chapman’s lead for the remainder of the game.
The Panthers registered an impressive 41 points off the bench.
Watson noted that the team’s chemistry is in the right place heading into Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play.
“Last night’s win was big for us,” Watson said. “Bristol has beaten two teams in our conference. They’re a good team. We played a great game, everyone did what they were supposed to do and everyone on the bench was into the game. I had the time of my life watching my teammates leave it all on the floor and cheering them on. Last night’s win showed us if we play the right way, the way we are capable of playing, we can be a great team.”
Next, the Panthers play host to La Sierra (0-6) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in another non-conference matchup.
“We are happy about winning, and as for the streak, I don’t think our confidence has changed,” Watson said. “We are a well-coached team that knows if we play the right way, we can beat anyone.”
With four games left before conference play, Chapman is focused on keeping its winning streak going.
“There is really no better feeling than winning and knowing that the team is playing at a high level,” Hamasaki said. “We need to approach every game with the same competitive mentality and focus on the task at hand. We play in a tough conference that will test us to the fullest and we cannot simply think we are better than our opponents.”