One week after the Hiram game that was simultaneously their best and most devastating of the season, the Lords’ basketball team put up more quality performances and eventually got their first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) win. They first lost Saturday 96-79 to No. 18 Wabash College, but were able to break through on Wednesday night in their final home game of the season to defeat Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) 79-77.
Looking to carry their momentum from last week, after they played one of their best games of the season against Hiram College, the Lords travelled to Indiana face the Wabash Little Giants. In their first meeting a month ago in Gambier, the Little Giants beat the Lords squarely 92-69. This time, however, the Lords put up a tougher fight and forced the Little Giants to play a little harder than they had expected. Only after the 15-minute mark in the second half, when the Lords had cut the Wabash lead down to 4, did the Little Giants begin to pull away.
The game showed an offensive balance for the Lords that had been lacking earlier in the season, with four players scoring 13 points or greater: Elijah Davis ’22, Ugnius Zilinskas ’21, Christian Watanabe ’22 and Carter Powell ’20 joined forces to score 65 points, making up 82% of the Lords’ entire offense.
In their last home game of the season, the Lords were able to send their seniors off with a win. The game was a tale of two halves for the Lords, as they started out the game ice cold from the field, shooting 37.5% on 32 shots. Nonetheless, it was a tight contest from beginning to end, with the largest lead of the game being OWU by 15 points in the first half. However, the Lords were able to fight their way back, and cut OWU’s lead to 40-35 before the halftime buzzer. The Lords excelled behind the arc, where they shot an incredible 58.3% on 12 shots. The Kenyon defense was tough on OWU as well in the first half; they committed only two fouls and held the Battling Bishops to 47.1% from the field.
The second half showcased a completely different Kenyon offense. The Lords were able to sink 60.71% of their shots from the field. On top of that, their 3-point percentage in the second half improved to 61.54%. The team was able to put up points fast and always stay within range of OWU, whose largest lead of the half was eight points at 11:51 left in the game. Five minutes later, the Lords stormed back and tied the game at 63. Kenyon did not surrender the lead for the remainder of the game, and ultimately won the barnburner with a score of 79-77. It was also the Lords’ first win against OWU since 2000.
One of the major contributors for the Lords came from the bench: Alex Cate ’20 scored 14 points for the Lords on six shots in 20 minutes of play. Zilinskas had another monster game as he registered another double-double. He led the team in rebounds with 10, and finished second in scoring with 15 points. However, the story of the night was Matt Shifrin ’19. For his final home game in a Kenyon uniform, Shiffrin registered 21 points on 14 shots, his second-highest total on the year. After the buzzer sounded, Shiffrin pumped his fist and went to hug family and friends who were in attendance, knowing his final game in Tomsich Arena was a win.
The Lords’ final game of the season will be Saturday at 4p.m. against the Allegheny College Gators in Meadville, Pa.