Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
ORANGE, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team saw a late lead slip away Wednesday night as they fell 77-74 to Chapman University seeing their winning streak snapped at four games.
The Purple & Gold carried momentum into the big road match-up with the Panthers and they gave them a scare early leading 15-4 in the opening five minutes en route to going in front 36-27 at the break.
But in the second the Poets' defensive unit stalled giving up 50 points that proved costly as they would drop their first game in the month of February. They now drop to 9-13, 7-6 SCIAC.
Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) scored the first five points of the game giving Whittier the early advantage. Tyler Green knocked down a three-pointer that cut the deficit to eight but again WC would put together a run of seven straight with jumpers from Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) capped off with an and one by Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) with over 12 minutes to play in the first half.
Chapman tried to come back cutting the lead again back to eight but seven in a row with Jake Moore (Dallas, TX) knocking down a triple, Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) with a layin and Davis with a couple free throws would move the score to 32-19 with 5:29 to play in the half.
The Poets and Panthers went back and forth over the opening three and a half minutes of the second half until Chapman' Reed Nakakihara added a three-pointer followed by a Corwin Feerick layup that cut the deficit to six. Moments later Luke Selway answered with a big three-pointer that made it a three-point game.
With just under 13 minutes to play, Rob Nelsen came up big for CU converting a three-point play which led to Selway adding back to back layins that deadlocked the game. Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) stopped the run with a couple free throws and a layin that put Whittier back on top but again Chapman didn't go away as Josh Mendoza knocked down back-to-back three-pointers that cut the Poets lead to one.
On the Panthers next possession Feerick added a laup that gave CU a one point lead and then Mendoza caught fire again knocking down another three-pointer that extended the Panther lead to four. Whittier though didn't go away quietly however. Joey Toyama (Pasadena, Calif.) would add a three-pointer himself and Kurihara would put the Poets back on top with a layup with seven minutes to play.
But immediately after CU went on a 7-0 run that gave them a six-point lead. Whittier went on top one last time with 2:38 to play off a three-pointer from Kurihara but that lead wouldn't hold. Nakakihara would drain another triple followed by a Nelsen layin that swung the momentum and despite Davis going to the rack three times and converting all three layins, which included an and one on the last attempt, it wasn't enough to pull off the road win as free throws down the stretch would secure the victory for Chapman.
Davis finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and added five boards and three assists. Kurihara added 16 points with three assists and two steals and Toyama and Ryan Henry combined for 17 points and eight boards. Potthoff led the rebounding effort with seven and Nwaba chipped in with seven points.
Whittier shot 46% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. They were also at a 40% clip from the charity stripe. They outrebounded Chapman 40-37 and added 34 points in the paint but turned the ball over 17 times that led to 19 points by CU.
Whittier remains on the road this Saturday, February 10 as they travel to take on Occidental College beginning at 2:00pm. They then return home on February 14 and February 20 for their final two games when they take on Claremont-M-S and Pomona-Pitzer.