Section: Basketball

Owls take on No. 1 Christopher Newport in tournament

This past weekend, the Kenyon men’s basketball team continued its season with a pair of road games against No. 1 Christopher Newport University (Va.) and Washington and Jefferson College (Pa.), before ending the week with its home opener against Alma College (Mich.). Though the Owls fought valiantly in all three games, they are still searching for their first win of the season.
The Owls headed to Marietta, Ohio, to compete against the reigning Division III National Basketball champions. In the first half of the game, Christopher Newport had an early lead with a triplet of threes, but Kenyon quickly tied things up at 9-9 and took control of the floor. For the next six minutes of play, the Owls outscored the Captains with a 19-14 run. Three-point shooting was a particular strength during the run, as Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25, Murathan Kocaman ’27, Connor Moss ’25 and Juan Sergio Matabuena ’25 all connected from beyond the arc.
The tables turned for the Owls as the Captains went on an 18-0 run, taking back the lead 41-27. Throughout the rest of the half, Christopher Newport ended up with a 52.8% shooting average and a lead of 53-38.
It was more of the same for the remainder of the second half, and even though the Owls didn’t come away with the win, they clocked some key stats on the board. Bar-Cohen led the team with 13 points, while first-years Kocaman and Lucas Friedman ’27 each put up seven points. Drew Valentino ’24 also had a game-high 13 rebounds, which led the Owls in their scoring run against the Captains. Kenyon also had a good night from the free-throw line, making 20 of 23 shots at the charity stripe.
In a message to the Collegian, guard Sam Lieberman ’25 highlighted the Owls’ focus when playing teams like Christopher Newport. “We know we can compete with all of these teams, we just have to put it all together and stay disciplined on the court. Playing teams like [Christopher Newport], the number-one team in the country, will only prepare us better for the future.”
The Owls closed out their time in Marietta with a Saturday game against the Presidents. Kenyon took an early lead thanks to a give-and-go from Nick Nelson ’26 to Bar-Cohen, who brought the ball downtown on a fast break. The Owls showed off their off-the-glass game, clocking nine offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points, most of them coming from Valentino, who had six offensive rebounds. The Presidents and the Owls battled through multiple lead changes, but an 8-2 run from Washington and Jefferson put Kenyon down by double digits with three minutes remaining in the first half. At the break, Kenyon trailed 41-30.
Bar-Cohen scored the first six points of the second half and a timely three-pointer from Moss brought the Owls back within four with 15 minutes remaining in the half. However, the Presidents took control for the rest of the game, ultimately winning 75-61. Though the Owls didn’t clinch the win, the rebounding game from Valentino and Bar-Cohen kept Kenyon in the game, as the New Jersey natives picked up 14 and nine rebounds, respectively.
Back home in Tomsich Arena on Tuesday, Kenyon opened up its home season with a nighttime game against Alma College. Lieberman put home a lay-up to give the Owls an early 2-0 lead, but it would be Kenyon’s only lead of the night. The Scots quickly took over, scoring the game’s next eight points. After trading baskets, the Owls tied the game at 11 thanks to a 3-pointer from Sergio Matabuena. Though Kenyon kept the game close through much of the opening frame, Alma began to pull away in the waning minutes of the half. On the strength of their 3-point shooting, the Scots grew their lead to 12 points. A pair of field goals from Bar-Cohen made it a 35-27 game heading to halftime.
Alma maintained its double-digit advantage throughout much of the second half and the Scots led 56-42 with just over nine minutes to play in the game. From then on, Kenyon began to chip away at the deficit. Sergio Matabuena, Nelson and Kocaman cut Alma’s lead in half and forced the Scots to call a timeout. Down the stretch, the Owls continued to claw back into the game. With just seconds left on the clock, Anthony Testa ’24 hit a pair of threes to make it a one-point game. Alma sank two free throws to make the score 69-66, and despite Testa’s best efforts, his halfcourt shot would not go. Foul trouble doomed Kenyon, as the Scots went to the charity stripe 25 times compared to the Owls’ four trips. Additionally, Alma converted Kenyon’s 21 turnovers in the game into 22 points, while the Owls scored just six points off turnovers.
Kenyon will look to pick up its first win of the season on Saturday, when the Owls travel to face the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears. “We are preparing for Saturday by competing in practice and focusing on the details of our offense and defense,” Lieberman wrote.
Editor-in-chief Katie Sparvero ’25 contributed to reporting.


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