The Kenyon women’s basketball team opened its 2023-2024 season with road matches against Otterbein University and Wilmington College this past week, before hosting Capital University at home on Wednesday. All three games resulted in a loss for the Owls, leaving their current record at 0-3.
On Thursday night, the Owls traveled to Cincinnati to play the Otterbein Cardinals in their first match of the Mount St. Joseph Lauren Hill Tip-off Classic. Despite a strong start and a fourth quarter comeback, Kenyon fell 65-45 in its first game of the season. Claudia Cooke ’24 tallied 22 points for the Owls and shot 50% from the field. The Owls kept it close throughout the first quarter, but struggled in the second with a 15.4% field goal percentage and went into the half down 32-17.
The second half didn’t prove much kinder to Kenyon, as the Owls got into foul trouble in the third quarter and went into the last 10 minutes of the game down 51-30. Cooke started out the fourth quarter with nine straight points and helped Kenyon outscore the Cardinals in the final moments of the game, but the late effort was not enough to take back the lead and secure the win. Despite the loss, Cooke was quick to see positives from the team’s performance, citing a positive outlook on the upcoming season. “I think we have a chance to compete within our conference and it’s an exciting time. It is easy to sulk about the losses but it has no benefit for the games that are to come, so maintaining a positive mindset and reminding myself of the enjoyment I get from playing is what I am leaning on throughout this season,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian.
The Owls got right back into action on Friday afternoon as they continued their tournament play against the Wilmington Quakers, who ultimately overpowered the Owls and handed them a 73-55 loss. Tied at 11 in the first quarter, Mikayla Rudolph ’26 jumpstarted a 12-3 Kenyon run with an and-one. At the onset of the second quarter, the Owls had the lead, but the Quakers shot 52.6% compared to the Owls’ 16.7%, taking back the lead and momentum going into the half.
Although Kenyon managed to keep it close, it couldn’t edge out the Wilmington offense and was outscored in both the third and fourth quarters. Cooke led the team again with 19 points and 12 rebounds, marking her 16th career double-double. Anissa Hardy ’26 was not far behind her, recording 14 points and 12 rebounds, adding another to her three double-doubles from last season. Overall, the team shot over 80% at the free throw line and 31% from the field, but turned the ball over to the Quakers 24 times, helping Wilmington secure the 73-55 victory.
Despite the loss, Cooke says that the team is ready to put in the work and expects positive results moving forward. “I think we all agreed that it starts in practice, having high intensity and being competitive with one another in practice allows us to get better and push each other. I think that for the games, we need to have a short-term mentality, if you mess up, you need to move on and continue pushing. I think it’s easier said than done, but as long as we are encouraging and maintaining a positive attitude I believe we can win the games this week,” she said.
Against Capital at home, Kenyon started up its offense with a 3-point shot from Rudolph, opening the score 3-0. The offense faltered as the first quarter progressed, with the Owls quickly falling behind 20-7. Kenyon was more productive in the second quarter, outscoring Capital in the frame and entered halftime down 38-27. However, the Owls could never gain a foothold in the match, as the Comets’ 15 points off the bench, compared to Kenyon’s eight, kept Capital far ahead of Kenyon. Foul trouble continued to hurt the Owls, as the Comets shot 17-24 from the charity stripe compared to the Owls’ five meager free throws out of five. Ultimately, Kenyon fell 64-48.
The Owls are looking to claim their first win of the season as they travel to Pennsylvania to take on Penn State Behrend on Saturday. Looking ahead, Cooke is confident that the team will solidify and improve. “[W]e have a relatively young and small team this year,” she said. “Roles are being defined within the team, I think we had some really good moments within the games but consistency and intensity needs to be seen throughout the whole game and throughout the season.”