Section: Basketball

Men’s basketball drops a pair of road conference games

Men’s basketball drops a pair of road conference games

Nelson hit double digits against the Fighting Scots. I SEJIN KIM/SID/NCAA

The Kenyon men’s basketball team dropped a pair of NCAC matchups on the road, leaving its record at 5-17 (3-10 NCAC). After falling to the College of Wooster Fighting Scots on Saturday, the Owls fell to the Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops on Wednesday.

Kenyon opened the scoring on Saturday when Murathan Kocaman ’27 connected on a shot from downtown to give the Owls an early 3-0 lead. Unfortunately for the visiting team, Wooster quickly began to dominate, scoring the game’s next 16 points. The Owls never got closer than 10 points and the Fighting Scots closed out the first half on an 8-0 run to lead 45-22. For Justin Gagnon ’27, who ended the game with nine points on a trio of triples, Kenyon’s first-half effort was not up to par. “We just have to be tougher and more physical,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “They came out in the first half and played harder than us, which is unacceptable — especially since effort is something that everybody is capable of.” Though the Fighting Scots only outscored the Owls by one point in the second half, Kenyon’s first-half deficit was too much to overcome, and Wooster came away with the 77-53 win. 

Dylan Fuerst ’24 and Nicholas Nelson ’26 each ended the game with a team-high 10 points and emphasized the importance of a dynamic offense against tough defensive teams. “Wooster is known for their aggressive play style, particularly in how they apply pressure to disrupt their opponents’ offensive strategies,” Nelson wrote in an email to the Collegian. “This tactic is designed to cause confusion and disorder, challenging us to stay focused and execute our plays effectively.” Fuerst saw the game against the Fighting Scots as an important lesson for the Owls. “A learning point from the Wooster game is in being able to adapt offensively when the team we’re playing is denying our offensive sets,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian

The Owls’ struggles with turnovers were apparent again, as Kenyon turned the ball over 18 times, leading to frequent scoring runs and 19 points off turnovers for Wooster. “We gave them free transition layups way too many times,” Gagnon said. “We dribbled off our feet and passed it straight to [Wooster] multiple times.” Nelson believes that a strong offensive strategy can help Kenyon to take care of the ball. “Effective execution of our plays and securing high-quality shot opportunities are key strategies to limit turnovers, which, in turn, can reduce the opposing team’s momentum,” he said. “By consistently making good shots, we not only score points but also apply psychological pressure on the other team, dampening their confidence each time they come back down the floor.”

On Wednesday, the Battling Bishops opened the scoring with a layup and never looked back. The Owls struggled to shoot from the field, scoring their first six points at the charity stripe. Ohio Wesleyan led by double digits throughout much of the first half, but, with five minutes to play in the frame, a pair of free throws from Lucas Friedman ’27 cut the deficit to seven points. However, the Battling Bishops regained momentum, heading to halftime on a 12-2 run to lead 35-18.

The Owls returned from the break energized and scored seven unanswered points to begin the second half. Though Ohio Wesleyan maintained a comfortable cushion as the game progressed, Kenyon refused to go away without a fight. After layups from Gefen Bar-Cohen ’25 and Fuerst cut the Battling Bishops’ lead to eight points, Anthony Testa ’24 connected on a 3-pointer to make the score 44-39 with 12 minutes to play. Unfortunately for Kenyon, it was all Ohio Wesleyan the rest of the way. The Owls’ offense dried up, as Kenyon only scored eight more points to close out the game. Meanwhile, the Battling Bishops came alive, shooting 57.7% from the field in the second half, and the Owls fell by a final score of 72-47. Fuerst and Bar-Cohen led Kenyon with seven points. Kenyon’s poor shooting performance in the first half was especially costly, as the Owls went just 4-of-24 from the field.

Kenyon will return to Tomsich Arena on Saturday, when the Owls will celebrate Senior Day against the Denison University Big Red. Gagnon credited the program’s seniors for their part in the team’s growth throughout the season. “The seniors have all been great leaders to us all year, and have been essential in turning this program around,” he said. “Hopefully we can secure a win for them on their night.” Fuerst is excited for the chance to remember his time on the Hill with his fellow seniors. “It will be really nice to celebrate and relive the four years Anthony, Drew [Valentino ’24], [team manager] Ian [Weihe ’24] and I have spent with the program after the game,” he said.

As the season winds down, Nelson emphasized the importance of the team staying united as they head toward the NCAC tournament. “We thrive at being best friends and a cohesive support unit to each other off the court,” he said. “But if we aim to bring more of this talking through plays, adjustments and observations during games and practices, the sky’s the limit.”

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

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