Section: Basketball

Men’s basketball honors its seniors in loss to Wittenberg

After falling to Wittenberg University on Senior Day, the Kenyon men’s basketball team dropped its final road game of the season to Oberlin College on Wednesday.

Following a pre-game celebration on Saturday, the Owls rostered a starting five comprising the team’s seniors: Kamal Aubakirov ’23, Alex Boyd ’23, Nick Lewis ’23, Dylan Osimetha ’23 and Sam Walch ’23. Lewis was grateful to have his parents present and to have the chance to look back on his four years at Kenyon. “It was a very emotional day for me as we celebrated the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication to this program,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I really was able to reflect on everything my teammates and coaches have done for me to make my experience here so special.” In his own email to the Collegian, Walch echoed that sentiment: “Senior Day to me was a celebration of the hard work and dedication that our five seniors showcased in four years on the Hill.” For Osimetha, the chance to take the floor with his fellow seniors was particularly meaningful. “Getting to start the game with the other four seniors was a special moment that I will always cherish,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It was a testament to our hard work, leadership and commitment to the team.”

Throughout the game’s opening minutes, the two teams stayed close. Wittenberg opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and built its lead to 8-5 early on. Boyd and Osimetha answered back with two jumpshots to give Kenyon its first lead of the game. The two teams traded points, and the Owls held a 16-13 lead with 13 minutes to play. After tying the game with a triple, the Tigers took a lead that they would carry until the final minute of the half. Trailing 27-24, Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25 put Kenyon ahead with five consecutive points. After Wittenberg retook a one-point lead, Nicholas Nelson ’26 hit a free throw and sent the two teams to halftime tied 29-29. The close play that marked the first half continued in the opening minutes of the latter frame, with neither team holding onto the lead for long. With the Owls up 36-34 three minutes into the half, the Tigers hit a 3-pointer that began a 16-4 run. Trailing by double digits with 10 minutes to play, Kenyon was unable to regain its first-half form and fell 69-52.

Lewis highlighted Wittenberg’s second-half shooting from beyond the arc (54.5%) and at the charity stripe (90.9%) as difference makers in the game. “We gave up a lot of free throws and threes in the second half,” he said. “We have to be more disciplined on defense and hold our ground to avoid fouling and giving up easy points.” Despite the result, Osimetha believes the team can take lessons from the game into next season. “I think the team can learn from this game by focusing on maintaining our intensity and execution throughout the entire game, regardless of the score,” he said. “I have no doubt that the younger guys will learn from this experience and come back stronger next year.”

On Wednesday, the Owls headed north to face the Yeomen. Neither team was able to gain a significant advantage in the early minutes of the game. After seven minutes of play, Kenyon held a slim 16-13 lead, its largest of the game. The teams traded the lead for the next two minutes, before a layup from Nelson put the Owls ahead 19-18. The Yeomen tied the game with a free throw, before hitting a 3-pointer to take a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Oberlin led 42-35 and built its advantage in the second half to take the game 77-65. Both Bar-Cohen and Nelson hit double digits, scoring 26 and 18 points respectively. Despite taking 24 trips to the charity stripe, the Owls converted on only 54.2% of their shots. 

With its record sitting at 7-17 (0-15 NCAC), Kenyon will close out the 2022-23 season with a home game against Denison University on Saturday. Prior to the game against Oberlin, Walch described the importance of finishing the season strong to build toward the next year. “Hopefully, in these last two games, we as a team can showcase our talent and passion for the game and highlight how bright of a future this young team can have,” he said.


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