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Kenyon rally comes up short in home opener

GAMBIER, Ohio — A frantic finish for the Kenyon College men’s basketball team came up just short Tuesday, as the host Owls fell to the Alma College Scots, 69-66, in the home opener at Tomsich Arena.

Kenyon (0-4) trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half of the game and found itself down by nine with a little less than three minutes remaining. After a steal from Nick Nelson, Gefen Bar-Cohen converted a fastbreak layup to cut the Kenyon deficit to seven.

Alma (2-1) misfired on a three-pointer on its next possession and Kenyon responded with a field goal, at the 1:19 mark, from Connor Moss, who trimmed the lead to five. Alma answered about 20 seconds later, but a quick trip the other way led to a three-ball from Juan Sergio Matabuena, who buried his shot from the right corner, making the score 64-60 with 42 ticks showing on the clock.

Kenyon had to go into foul mode and the first Alma player they got was Connor Riley, who converted both ends of a one-and-one. After the teams traded an empty possession, Kenyon got a desperation three-pointer from Anthony Testa. That shot found its mark with 12 seconds remaining.

Following a timeout, Alma sank one-of-two free throws to move ahead 67-63 with nine seconds left. Five seconds later, Testa drilled another long ball to make it a one-point game.

Kenyon again fouled Riley and, again, Riley made both free throws to finish with a game-high 25 points. Testa had one more shot left in him, but a last-second heave from beyond midcourt did not find the hoop.

The Owls battled turnovers all game long, but still managed to put themselves in a position to tie, or win, the game. Overall, the Scots defense, which pressured Kenyon for most of the game, forced 21 Kenyon turnovers and transformed those miscues into 22 points.

Kenyon did what it could to make up for the turnover margin by out-shooting and out-rebounding the Scots. The Owls were 28-of-54 (51.9 percent) for the game and grabbed 35 rebounds, which was two more than the Scots, who ended up shooting 23-of-58 (39.7 percent).

Kenyon starters struggled to get the offense clicking and accounted for exactly half of the team’s points. Matabuena led the starters with 11 points, while Bar-Cohen turned in a game-best 11 rebounds.

Off the bench, Testa and Murathan Kocaman both tossed in nine points, while Moss finished with eight and Dylan Fuerst chipped in seven.

Despite the close finish, Kenyon only led once and that happened on the first basket of the game.

The Owls will hit the road again on Saturday, as they travel to Ada, Ohio to face off with Ohio Northern University in a non-conference contest slated to start at 2 pm.

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