Reality set in with 7 minutes 47 seconds left in the first half.
It was like a slap in the face. A 31-0 slap in the face.
Chapman College flirted with upsetting UC Riverside--the No. 2-ranked team in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s Division II--for a little more than 12 minutes Saturday night.
Then . . . well, the Panthers learned why Riverside is No. 2.
The Highlanders threw a defensive blanket around Chapman and smothered the Panthers, 79-56, in a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. game at the Hutton Sports Center.
For 12:06, the Panthers did not score. They didn't even come close to scoring.
"You expect a team as good as Riverside to get a run or two going sometime during a game," Chapman Coach Rich Prospero. "But I didn't expect it to be 30-0."
Actually, it was 31-0. It began with 7:47 left in the first half and ended when the Panthers' Bryan Richetto sank a 3-point field goal with 15:41 left in the second.
By then, it was Riverside 48, Chapman 25.
"I have never seen anything like that," said Riverside Coach John Masi, whose team has won 10 consecutive games. "Chapman was doing anything it wanted in its offense (before the run). I've never seen things change so quickly. I'm happy about it, but I couldn't believe it."
With 7:47 left in the first half, Rog Middleton grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to give Chapman (8-8, 1-2) a 22-17 lead. The Highlanders then said "enough."
It took only 2 minutes for Riverside (14-2, 3-0) to take the lead--a 3-pointer by Reggie Howard, a rebound layup by Mike Ritter and two free throws by Jimmy Shorters.
From then on, all the Highlanders had to do was capitalize on whatever mistakes the Panthers made. And the Panthers were in a giving mood.
Chapman turned the ball over on 7 of its last 8 possessions in the first half. The Panthers also missed five free throws, five jump shots and a layup during their 12-minute void.
Riverside, to be sure, was responsible for many of the Panthers' problems. Chris Jackson (12 points) had two steals late in the first half. Howard (13 points) also had a steal and deflected a pass.
Chapman had 12 turnovers for the game, six of them Highlander steals.
"Their athletic ability and our unwillingness to be patient was what hurt us," Prospero said. "They're a hell of a team."
Chapman controlled the tempo early in the first half. Richetto (15 points) took care of the basketball and provided some offense, scoring seven of the Panthers' first 20 points.
The Highlanders' offense appeared confused at times, as the Panthers pressured the wings and successfully clogged the middle.
Riverside took the lead for the first time with a 8-2 run, but five of the points came on free throws as the Highlanders' offense was still dormant.
A 3-point field goal by Stafford put the Panthers back in front, 18-16. Consecutive layups by Richetto boosted Chapman's lead to five, 22-17.
Then reality set in.