Section: Basketball

Owls honor seniors, lose heartbreaker to Oberlin Yeomen

Owls honor seniors, lose heartbreaker to Oberlin Yeomen

SEJIN KIM/SID/NCAA

The Kenyon men’s basketball team played its final home games of the 2023-24 season, falling to Denison University and Oberlin College. The Owls’ record is currently 5-19 (3-12 NCAC) ahead of their final game of the season.

On Saturday, the Owls celebrated Senior Day with a home game against the rival Big Red. After a ceremony recognizing Dylan Fuerst ’24, Anthony Testa ’24, Drew Valentino ’24 and team manager Ian Weihe ’24, Denison scored the game’s first five points. Fuerst helped the Owls find their footing with a 3-pointer, and a pair of jumpers in the paint from Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25 and Nick Nelson ’26 tied things up at seven-all three minutes into the frame. However, Denison’s defensive pressure strangled the Owls offensively and generated turnovers for the Big Red, who capitalized and entered halftime up 37-25.

Denison maintained its momentum coming out of the break and grew its lead to 28 points eight minutes into the half. Kenyon showed signs of life as Valentino, aided by Murathan Kocaman ’27 and Lucas Friedman ’27, kickstarted a 9-0 run with about 10 minutes left to play. Though Kenyon had strong moments in the second half, Denison ultimately maintained its lead with a final score of 72-53.

“Although it felt great to be celebrated on Senior Day, our performance against Denison left a great deal to be desired,” Fuerst wrote in an email to the Collegian. “We let Denison go on a huge run in the second half with a very poor stretch on the defensive and offensive end, which led us into a large hole that was hard to come back from.” 

The Owls pivoted to their final home game on Wednesday against the Yeomen, looking to pick up their first win against Oberlin since January 2018. Strong 3-point shooting helped the Yeomen jump out to a 12-5 lead four minutes into the contest. The two teams traded baskets, but Oberlin always stayed a step ahead, building its lead to as many as 15 points throughout the half. With under five minutes to play in the opening frame, Testa and Connor Moss ’25 hit back-to-back triples to cut the Yeomen lead to 29-20. Down the stretch, Oberlin expanded its lead to double digits to head to the break up 40-27.

Kocaman’s deep 3-pointer straight out of halftime set the tone for the Owls, as they stormed back to within two points of the Yeomen in the first five minutes of the second half. Then with under 15 minutes left to play, Moss sank yet another 3-pointer to give Kenyon its first lead since the score was 5-3. With the crowd roaring and the bench on their feet, Friedman hit a clutch three to extend the lead to 45-41. However, Kenyon’s grip on the game began to slip, as both teams entered a low-scoring period as time continued to tick on. Oberlin eventually regained the lead with just under nine minutes left and never gave it back, despite every effort from the Kenyon offense. In the final 30 seconds, Oberlin had fouls to give and prevented Kenyon from taking any shots from the field, sealing the Yeomen’s 59-57 win. 

Kenyon will wrap up its regular season with a road game against Wittenberg University on Saturday. The Owls will look for some revenge against the Tigers, after falling 80-75 on Jan. 6.

Sports assistant Henry Brandt ’26 is a member of the men’s basketball team.

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