Section: Sports

Coach Helfant wins 350th game with Ladies basketball

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Suzanne Helfant won her 350th career game with the Ladies’ Saturday victory against Allegheny College, and added victory number 351 to her decorated resume last night.

Wednesday night’s 41-38 victory against Denison University (9-10, 6-4 NCAC) could only be described as an ugly game. Both teams shot under 30 percent from the floor, well below their season averages, in part because of the smothering defense played by both teams. Bailey Dominguez ’17 led the Ladies with just eight points in a game where both teams grabbed more rebounds than points scored.

On Saturday, the Ladies basketball team got off to a quick start against Allegheny (3-14, 1-8 NCAC), scoring 21 of the game’s first 23 points and never allowing the Gators’ deficit to get much smaller.

Not only was the Ladies’ hot shooting a big contributor to their 40-17 halftime lead, they also held the Gators to just three made baskets. Dominguez played a big role in the victory with a team-leading 14 points, but the game was largely a team-wide effort, as the Ladies assisted on 20 of their 27 made baskets and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. Out-rebounding their opponents has been a catalyst of Kenyon’s excellent record this year, as the team has averaged five more rebounds per game than their opposition.

While the Ladies’ 71-39 victory over the Allegheny Gators on Saturday was their 14th of the season, it meant far more than just any mid-season game: Helfant claimed the 350th victory of her Kenyon career, a testament to the success she has had coaching in Gambier. Helfant came to Kenyon 22 years ago and has since averaged nearly 16 wins per season. For Helfant, this milestone was just one of many highlights she has experienced at Kenyon. In the 1996-97 season, her second with the Ladies, she led the team to a 26-2 record. Eight years later in the 2004-05 season, the Ladies won 22 games and a conference title, ultimately netting Helfant the award of Women’s Basketball Coaches Association(WBCA) District Six Coach of the Year.

Helfant is most proud of the consistency of the program during her lengthy tenure. “We have some core values that are very important to who we are [as a team] that are passed down from year to year within the group,” she said. “We do things pretty much the same way we did things 22 years ago. We try to play good defense, and we want to share the basketball and play fully as a team. I think this team exemplifies all those values.”

The Ladies have been playing well all season and have shifted into even better gear recently. The team is 15-5 overall and has won their last six games. Their 9-2 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) record is second only to DePauw University (9-0) in conference play. The team will also get an opportunity to take down DePauw on February 11 at home. “I think we just need to work on our consistency a bit,” Helfant said. “The basketball season is extraordinarily long and there’s a bit of monotony in practice when you’re three-and-a-half months into your season.”

Coach Suzanne Helfant won her 350th game with Kenyon on Saturday.

The Ladies will have plenty of time to rest up for their next game, when they will host Ohio Wesleyan University (6-12, 3-6 NCAC) on Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. Following that game, they will travel to Oberlin, Ohio on Feb. 8 to take on the Oberlin College Yeowomen (7-11, 5-5 NCAC).

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