Section: Basketball

Men’s and women’s basketball open their seasons with wins

Men’s and women’s basketball open their seasons with wins

Katie Orefice '23 | SEJIN KIM/SID/NCAA

Women’s basketball

In Mary Corbett’s head-coaching debut, the Kenyon women’s basketball team came away with a hard-fought win in their season opener against Defiance College. The two teams traded the lead throughout the game, but the Owls ultimately came away with a 55-54 win.

With a new coaching staff and a mix of experienced returners and a handful of newcomers, Kenyon was excited to start the 2022-23 season. Katie Orefice ’23, the team’s leading scorer in 2021-22 (426 points), has been impressed by what she has seen from the team. “Despite several changes throughout the years, I think we have a great mix of talent and ability,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. For Bela Krslovic ’24, the team’s youth will offer the chance for the team to improve together. “We are a young team and will be growing our confidence together as the season progresses,” she wrote to the Collegian.

Neither Kenyon nor Defiance were able to find much momentum to start the game, leaving the Yellow Jackets with a 12-10 advantage after a low-scoring first quarter. The Owls took the lead to open the second quarter thanks to a 3-point shot from Katie Orefice ’23. Kenyon led for nearly the entire second quarter, until a Defiance layup gave the Yellow Jackets a 28-27 lead with just over a minute to play in the half. After a pair of missed free throws and a foul on Defiance gave Kenyon the ball back, a layup from Claudia Cooke ’24 put the Owls ahead 29-28 heading into halftime.

As the two teams returned from the half, momentum quickly shifted in Defiance’s favor. After the Yellow Jackets scored five unanswered points to open the third quarter, the Owls were able to respond, going on an 8-0 run to take a 37-33 lead with under six and a half minutes to play in the quarter. From there, Defiance regained control, taking advantage of Kenyon misses, fouls and turnovers to lead 45-39 heading into the final frame. 

In the fourth quarter, Kenyon found its rhythm once again, surviving early pressure from Defiance to keep the game within reach. With just over five minutes to play, Orefice put the Owls ahead with a layup, before the two teams traded free throws to give Kenyon a 53-52 lead with under two minutes on the game clock. After a Owls turnover gave the Yellow Jackets the ball, Taylor Day, who was Defiance’s leading score, put home a layup to give her team the 54-53 lead. With 17 seconds on the clock, the Owls called a pair of timeouts, looking to draw up the winning play. Kenyon put the ball into the hands of Orefice, who drove into the paint and put home the game-winner with five seconds left.

The Owls will return to action in Columbus, Ohio, where they will face Capital University on Saturday. Krslovic believes that every game offers an opportunity for the team to mature and find their stride. “We have a very new and young team, so we want to improve every game,” she said. “I think we can get better every week and be at our best by the time playoffs come.” 

Men’s basketball   

On Tuesday, the Kenyon men’s basketball team opened their 2022-23 campaign with a road win against nonconference Waynesburg University (Pa.). The Owls beat the Yellow Jackets 71-54, with Anthony Testa ’24 leading the way with 19 points and 62.5% shooting from the 3-point line.

After a disappointing 2021-22 season that saw the Owls go 3-22 (1-17 NCAC), expectations for the new season were high. According to Nick Lewis ’23, the team has taken the offseason to improve. “I think last year our inexperience (almost half of our team consisted of freshmen) caught up with us, but now with an entire season and offseason under our belts, we feel that we’re ready to take the next step,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. Miles Versa ’25, whose first season with the program earned him an honorable mention on the All-NCAC Team, also believes the team has the ability to improve in all aspects. “My expectations for the team this year is to be better in every facet of the game than we were last year,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian.

The Owls traveled to Waynesburg to face the Yellow Jackets, who finished their prior season 14-14. The two teams traded the lead to open the first half, with neither team stretching their lead to more than six points. With just under seven minutes to play in the half, Testa put Kenyon ahead 21-20 with a 3-pointer, and the Owls never trailed again in the game. Though Waynesburg kept the score close through the rest of the half, Kenyon went into the break with a 35-30 lead. 

Prior to the game, Lewis emphasized the importance of putting in a full-game effort to find success. “We know we can compete, we had games last year where we’d be close with top teams for a half, but we need to put it together for 40 full minutes,” he said. In the second half, the Owls finished off a complete performance, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 36-24. Kenyon stretched the lead to as much as 24 points due to a 21-2 run led by Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25, who had 10 points in the second half. After the final buzzer sounded, the Owls came away with a resounding 71-54 win.

Kenyon will return to play with its home opener on Monday, when the Owls will host the Earlham College (Ind.) Quakers. For Lewis, the season represents a chance to defy expectations and make noise in a crowded NCAC field. “After a tough year last year, we see ourselves as underdogs and expect to surprise a lot of teams who will be underestimating us, making the conference tournament with the goal of winning the championship,” he said.


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