Special to The Rafu
REDLANDS — The Chapman Men’s Basketball team won their SCIAC opener defeating Redlands, 61-56, on Dec. 4 at Redlands University.
The Panthers’ Taylor Hamasaki led all scorers with 27 points. He added six rebounds and two assists.
It was a good win for Chapman because Redlands’ home court is a difficult place to play. Chapman also handed Redlands their only conference loss last season.
The Panthers jumped out to a 16-7 lead and looked to be in control. However, once Aljosa Bjekovic and Kendel Glapion entered the game for the Bulldogs and forward Eric Radford started hitting shots, they methodically chipped away at the lead to give them a 30-27 lead at the half. Bjekovic, a sophomore from Maribor, Slovenia, was a monster on the boards, grabbing seven rebounds, allowing Chapman only one shot per possession.
It was the stellar play of Chapman’s Nick Dragovich and Hamasaki in the second half that helped them win the game. Dragovich scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds, four on the offensive end. His biggest rebound came with 26 seconds left and Chapman up by three.
Colin Zavrsnick’s three-point attempt was just off and Dragovich snatched the rebound to allow Chapman to call a time-out. Zavrsnick was fouled, and converted one of two free throws to give the Panthers a four-point lead and breathing room with 17 seconds left in the game.
Hamasaki had 16 in the second half. At one point, he scored ten consecutive points for the Panthers and with less than six minutes remaining in the game, each time Redlands tied the score, Hamasaki answered with a jump shot to put Chapman back in the lead.
In addition to Hamasaki’s 27 points, Dragovich finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Zavrsnick scored 10 and had seven rebounds and Garrett James scored four points along with four rebounds and two assists. Radford scored 17 and Bjekovic had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Panthers also made their home debut on Nov. 30 and nearly upset 24th-ranked George Fox University, falling 65-62 to the visiting Bruins.
Panthers senior guard Kimi Takaoka scored a game-high 26 points and became just the 10th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau for her career.
Sophomore forward Sandra Gao added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers.
Takaoka’s 26 points were an early-season high on 9 of 23 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers.
She needed just five points to reach 1,000, making her the sixth Division III player in Chapman history to accomplish the feat, most recently accomplished by Linda Ly in 2010.