By Ben Payner
After a Thanksgiving break that saw the Lords drop two close games to Muskingum University and Earlham College, 82-80 and 86-84 respectively, the team bounced back in post-break conference play ﾗ maintaining a perfect record in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
The Muskingum game was a classic back-and-forth battle, with the largest lead by Muskingum holding at seven points early in the first half. With four minutes left in the game, a three-pointer by Jonathan Amador ’15 put the Lords up by four. But turnovers on three straight possessions allowed Muskingum to take the lead.
Turnovers and free throws ultimately doomed the Lords. Muskingum converted the Lords’ 14 turnovers into 16 points. Muskingum also shot 27-30 (90 percent) from the free throw line, while the Lords went 18-28 (64.3 percent).
The Earlham game was a different story, as the Lords fought back from a nine-point halftime deficit. Earlham caught fire in the first half, going 16-26 from the field, including a staggering 12-16 from behind the arc, leading to the deficit. Though Earlham’s shooting slowed in the second half, the Lords were ice-cold from behind the arc. For the game, they made five three-pointers on 25 attempts. But like the Muskingum game, untimely turnovers in the last two minutes helped Earlham grab a road victory.
Ikenna Nwadibia ’14 continued his blistering pace with 22 points and 13 rebounds on 9-16 shooting, notching his fifth double-double of the season.
“I have been very aggressive-minded on the offensive end to start the season and my teammates have been getting me the ball in my scoring areas,” Nwadibia said.
Julian Pavlin ’14 had a strong game with 15 points, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Brian Lebowitz ’14 also chipped in with 18 points in 21 minutes. Though the Lords came up just short in these two games, the outlook was not entirely negative for the team, as the Lords out-rebounded their opponents in both games and averaged nearly 80 points per game.
“We have gotten off to a bumpy start; a couple of calls didn’t go in our favor and balls didn’t bounce in our direction,” Nwadibia said. “But you know what, that’s basketball. To get some more wins on our record we need to play with more urgency and confidence on the defensive end. Once we do that, we will see a major improvement in our overall gameplay.”
In the two games since, it appears the team is taking Nwadibia’s sentiments to heart. After holding on for an important one-point conference road win at Oberlin (64-63) last Wednesday, the Lords returned home on Saturday, Dec. 7 for a showdown with conference rival Hiram College. With Kenyon leading at the half, 34-30, Hiram closed the gap to one point with just under 15 minutes to go in the game. A 10-2 run over the next three and a half minutes allowed Kenyon to take control for the rest of the game. Lebowitz led the Lords with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Nwadibia scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and pulled down seven rebounds.
The Lords improved to 3-0 in conference play with an 80-75 come-from-behind win over Allegheny College on Tuesday, Dec. 10. They will hit the court again tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at Kenyon’s Tomsich Arena against Albion College. After the Albion game, the Lords will take a short hiatus before playing in the New York University Holiday Classic in New York City on Jan. 3-4.
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