Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Poet Pit was alive and rockin Wednesday night inside of the Graham Athletic Center but they couldn't push the Men's Basketball team past Chapman University as they fell in the final minute 79-75 in a heartbreaker.
Whittier was looking to build off their huge win on the road against the University of Redlands and got help from the Poet faithful but couldn't hold on for the win as they dropped to 5-10, 3-3 SCIAC, while Chapman improved to 12-3, 5-1 SCIAC.
The Purple & Gold were looking for the upset win over the Panthers and had an opportunity late in the second half holding a six-point lead with 8:30 to play after back to back three-pointers from Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) and Joey Toyama (Pasadena, Calif.). But they couldn't hold it as Chapman came back with a 14-5 run over the next four minutes to regain the lead at 69-66.
On the Poets next possession Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) responded with two free throws that cut the deficit to one but a mini 6-2 burst by CU moved the advantage back to five with 1:19 to play. After a pair of missed free throws from Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.), he bounced back to pick up a steal on the defensive end before giving it up to Ryan Henry (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) who added a layin with :34 seconds to play that cut the deficit to three.
After a timeout by Chapman, Head Coach Mike Bokowsky decided to utilize strategy down the stretch. He limited Whittier from taking any three-point attempts in the final seconds as he had his players foul the Poets right away when they inbounded sending them to the line forcing them to knock down free throws. The first time Toyama was able to go 2-2 from the charity stripe keeping the deficit at one. After a Whittier foul, CU was forced to go to the line for a one and one but Tyler Green made both stretching the score to 77-74. The next Poet that was sent to the line was Davis with :04 seconds remaining but he was only able to knock down 1-2 and Chapman would go down on their next possession to add both free throws allowing them to escape with the road win.
Toyama played 19 minutes and was a perfect 3-3 from the field coming on all three-pointers and was 6-6 from the free throw line finishing with 15 points. Potthoff also had 15 points with three blocked shots knocking down three triples and Davis registered 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block. Henry was the last Poet in double figures with 11 going 5-of-7 from the field and Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Longmire each added eight points apiece and a combined 11 boards.
Whittier shot 44% (25-57) from the field and was at a 41% (9-22) clip from behind the arc. They forced 18 Chapman turnovers and earned 18 points off them but lost the battle on the boards at 30-28. Free throws for the Poets were tough as they finished 16-23 (69%) and they were outscored in the paint 32-26).
Whittier has a bye this Saturday and returns to competition on the road next Wednesday, January 17 when they travel to take on Claremont-M-S beginning at 7:00pm. This begins a three-game road trip, which also includes Pomona-Pitzer (January 20) and Caltech (January 24).