ORANGE, Calif. - Coming off an emotional last second victory over top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Friday evening, the Cal Lutheran men's basketball team was unable to recreate that magic tonight at Chapman in the SCIAC Post Season Tournament Championship game, falling 79-51 to the Panthers, which unfortunately also ended the NCAA playoff hopes for the Kingsmen.
Chapman won the tip-off, scored the first basket and seemingly never looked back after opening a 12 point halftime lead, pushing the gap to as many as 30 late in the second stanza en route to their first SCIAC Post Season Tournament title.
At the 14:15 mark in the opening half Corey Quintana put in a pair of free-throws to make it a one possession game at 11-8, a score that would stand for the next two and a half minutes. Michael Palmer did the same at 11:03, but Davis Dragovich sparked an 8-0 Chapman run that he also capped off, shifting the momentum in favor of the home team. Collin Zavrsnick used a jumper to give the Panthers a double-figure lead with 3:18 to play in the first period and CU would maintain that differential throughout the remainder of the contest.
Chapman shot 55.4 percent from the field tonight while the Kingsmen hit just 38 percent of their shots on a night that both teams were cold from behind the arc going 1-for-8 and 2-for-11, respectively. CLU held an edge at the free-throw line, connecting for 11-for-13 (84.6 percent) while CU put in 16-for-22 (72.7 percent). Th biggest difference in the game, however, came on the glass where the Panthers combined to pull down 39 rebounds that they converted into 18 points with the Kingsmen grabbing just 21 total boards for six second chance points.
Four Panthers reached double digits, led by 17 from John Joyce. Both Dragovich and Zavrsnick poured in 16 and Taylor Hamasaki tallied 11. Dragovich also led all players with 13 rebounds for a double-double.
Cal Lutheran (19-8) was led once again by Arik Smith who scored a game-high 19 points. Coltrane Powdrill scored eight and Jeremy Sulker-Hall came off the bench for seven. CLU recorded no assists and no one pulled down more than three rebounds apiece in the contest.
Appearing the Violet and Gold for one final time tonight were Palmer, Steven Davis and Collin Knudsen.
Chapman (18-9) will represent the SCIAC in the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament. The Panthers will find out their fate on Monday morning when the NCAA Division III Selection Show takes place at 9:30 a.m. (PST).