ORANGE, Calif. – Sophomore Reed Nakakihara scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half to help the Chapman University men's basketball pull away for an 81-68 win over La Verne. Five Panthers scored in double figures and Chapman (6-5, 1-1 SCIAC) held La Verne (7-4, 1-1 SCIAC) to just 37 percent shooting.
It wasn't until the final five minutes that either team led by double digits. The lead changed hands six times in the first half and was tied four more times in a tight game. Sophomore Tyler Green sunk a pair of three-pointers and dropped 12 points in the first half to lead Chapman to a 35-31 lead after 20 minutes.
The seesaw battle continued early on in the second half. Junior Josh Cohan's free throws made it 41-33 Chapman but La Verne came quickly roaring back with an 11-0 run, capped by Hakim Arnold's dunk to make it 44-41.
Nakakihara found his stroke from the outside as he drained the first of four threes he would hit in the second half. Sophomore Jeff Kenney continued to swing the momentum back to the home side as he converted a three-point play to put the lead back in Chapman's hands.
La Verne tied it back up at the charity stripe but Nakakihara hit another three, senior James Griffin drained a shot and Nakakihara drove in for a layup to put the Panthers up seven. Nakakihara's third triple made it a 10-point game and La Verne never came closer than six points the rest of the way.
Junior Rob Nelsen drained six big free throws down the stretch to finish with 15 points. Junior James Taylor had 11 points and six rebounds while Green finished with 14 points. Kenney's 12 points led the Chapman bench, which outscored its counterpart 20-5.
Arnold's 22 points led La Verne but the Leopards shot just over 37 percent for the night and were 18.8 percent from three-point range. Chapman his 49.1 percent of its shots on the night.
Chapman hosts Redlands in the second game of a SCIAC doubleheader on Saturday. The women's teams play at 2 p.m. with the men's game following at 4 p.m.
by Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director