Section: Basketball

Lords defeat Hiram College for first win in NCAC

Lords defeat Hiram College for first win in NCAC

Juan Sergio Matabuena ’25 led the Lords to their first NCAC win this season. | SEJIN KIM/ SID/ NCAA

Before the Kenyon men’s basketball team’s regular season comes to a close, the team played one final three-game slate for the week, including two matches against Denison University and one against Hiram College. The Lords picked up momentum throughout the week, forcing the second Denison game to go into overtime, before upsetting Hiram. 

The first game against Denison took place in Tomsich Arena on Feb. 11 and had the highest attendance of any home game this season, with an estimated 525 people in attendance. Despite the overwhelming support, Kenyon suffered a tough defeat, 75-55. But the Lords kept the game close for a while. Due to an astounding 11 consecutive points from Miles Versa ’25, the Lords trailed by only five points at the half. Following the halftime break, Denison played relentlessly, drawing 14 free throws and shooting 40% (13/32) from the field. Versa ended the match with 23 points, which was only a precursor to the following match, where he put up equally stellar numbers. 

The Lords traveled to Granville, Ohio the very next day to challenge Denison on their home court. The Lords kept the competition fierce until the final seconds of overtime, when they narrowly lost 72-70. The Big Red kept control of the game in the first half, holding Kenyon to 27% (8/29) shooting while Dension shot 37% (14/37). The Lords faced a deficit as large as 13 points in the second half, but their play did not falter. Multiple clutch plays from David Mazon ’25 and Versa allowed Kenyon to creep up towards Denison and ultimately push the game into overtime. 

The overtime period started slowly, but started to heat up as the Big Red and the Lords soon began  exchanging baskets, and they were knotted up with 30 seconds remaining in the game. In the final possession, when Kenyon trailed by two, point guard Max Belt ’25 was swarmed while in possession of the ball. His 3-point shot was well-contested, rendering it insignificant. Versa ended with 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the night, his fourth 20-point performance in a row. Versa’s performance was complemented by teammates Peter Haas ’25 and Mazon, who scored 12 and 13 points respectively. 

In their last home game of the year, the Lords got back into the win column, winning 70-62. The game against the Hiram Terriers started off slowly; eight minutes into the game, only 10 total points had been scored, with Kenyon leading 7-3. However, the Lords never trailed in the entire 40 minutes. 

After the slow offensive start, the Lords scored 16 points over the next four minutes to jump out to a 23-9 lead, and had a 10 point lead going into halftime. Coming out of half, the Terriers started to mount a comeback. The estimated crowd of 100 people were on the edge of their seats when Hiram hit a three to pull within one of Kenyon. But the Lords were determined not to give up easily. After missing a three on offense, they forced a turnover and Haas made a layup to make the score 51-48. The Terriers were lurking within single digits of the Lords down the stretch, but clutch free throws by Kenyon at the end of the game prevented Hiram from getting the Lords lead down to one possession. 

The final score was 70-62, giving the Lords their first conference victory of the season. Even more impressive, the Lords did it without Versa — their leader in points, assists and steals. Juan Sergio Matabuena ’25 helped pick up the slack, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds, both the highest on the team, in 25 minutes.

With one game left, the Lords will look to go out on a high note after a rough season with an overall record of 3-21 and 1-16 in the NCAC. 

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