by Noah Gurzenski | Staff Writer
While many Kenyon students flocked home for winter break, members of the Kenyon women’s basketball team rang in the New Year on campus, tipping off against four opponents before the second semester had even begun. After taking care of Mount Vernon Nazarene University and Ohio Wesleyan University, the Ladies dropped their next two games to No. 1 DePauw University 100-59 and Oberlin College 54-50. Last week, the Ladies fell to rival Denison University 68-55 before beating the College of Wooster 70-61, improving to 9-6 overall and 4-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC).
In the first half against Denison, Kenyon out-rebounded the Big Red 20-17 and Co-Captain Maureen Hirt ’14 led the team with nine points in the half, but the Ladies still went into the locker room trailing by three after a Denison three-pointer at the half-time buzzer.
Despite staying neck and neck with Denison midway through the second half, Kenyon couldn’t keep up with the Big Red for the final 10 minutes of play, and Denison extended their lead to as much as 14 en route to a 68-55 win. Kenyon’s demise in the second half was their inability to hit the boards, as Denison outrebounded Kenyon 25-13 in the final half of play.
With no time to dwell on the loss, Kenyon took on the College of Wooster at Tomsich Arena on Saturday, facing off against a team eager for the opportunity to knock off Kenyon for the first time since 2008.
“Everybody gets up to play us,” Head Coach Suzanne Helfant said. “We’re a big win on someone’s schedule. So we’ve got a target, and our kids need to understand that they need to be ready to play every single game.”
Against Wooster, Co-Captain Autumn Anderson ’14 made a hook shot in the paint to start off the scoring for Kenyon, which quickly jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. Wooster proceeded to go on an 11-2 run, however, which ended when Hirt dished the ball to Co-Captain Maggie Boelter ’14. Boelter pulled up for a shot from beyond the arc, bringing Kenyon within one with 12:45 left in the first half.
With both teams still fighting to establish a substantial lead, Sarah Hobbs ’15 came off the bench and made an immediate impact for Kenyon. On her first offensive possession, Hobbs got underneath the Wooster defense for a beautiful back door cut, which she finished with a layup off the glass to beat the shot clock. Just over a minute later, Kenyon ran the same play, and Boelter hit Hobbs on the backdoor cut for another layup. On the following possession, Hobbs stole the ball at the top of the key and dashed down the floor for the layup, putting Kenyon back up by one with 7:27 remaining in the half. Unable to put any considerable distance between themselves and a pesky Wooster squad, Kenyon went into the locker room holding only a four-point lead.
With Kenyon still ahead by four with just over 10 minutes remaining, Molly Rubin ’16 converted on a pair of free throws at the charity stripe and Avery Anderson ’15 made a basket from the low right post to put Kenyon up 53-43, giving the Ladies their largest lead of the game.
From that point on, Kenyon didn’t look back. They extended their lead to as much as 13 before sealing a 70-61 victory, ending their three-game skid. The win puts Kenyon in a situation identical to one they faced at this point in their schedule last season: after losing three straight games to Allegheny College, DePauw and Denison, the Ladies defeated Wooster and didn’t lose another game all year until falling to DePauw in the NCAC championship.
Last night, the Ladies traveled to Wittenberg University but could not tame the Tigers, losing 47-61. Kenyon will hit the road to play at Hiram College this Saturday, Jan. 25.