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Owls erase early deficit, but late lead slips away

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — The Kenyon College men’s basketball team battled back from a large early deficit and held the edge for the first half of the second frame, but the game slipped away late as Stevenson University claimed a 72-67 victory. The Owls fall to 6-5 on the season after losing on day one of two at the Daytona Beach Shootout.

Gefen Bar-Cohen, Kenyon’s leading scorer, paced the Owls with game-highs of 20 points and 14 rebounds. It was a career-high on the glass for the sophomore as he notched his third double-double over the last four games.

Fellow sophomore Miles Versa was the game’s second-leading scorer, finishing with 18 points. Versa made a game-high four three on seven attempts, the best three-point output of his career. For good measure, the guard also snagged a game-high three steals.

Kenyon’s top three season scorers finished in order tonight as sophomore David Mazon III chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.

Stevenson jumped out to an early nine-point lead, 11-2, after holding Kenyon to just one field goal on 13 tries to open the game. However, Alex Boyd got the Owls on track and quickly closed the gap, pouring in five quick points after baskets on consecutive possessions.

Bar-Cohen converted an and-one layup a few minutes later, and his three-point play cut Kenyon’s deficit to two, 19-17, halfway through the opening period. 

A 6-0 Mustangs run threatened to put Kenyon back in a hole, but the Owls countered with a 12-0 run over two and a half minutes. The scorching stretch featured two trifectas from Sam Walch, his first triples of the season. 

After the early stretch of runs, the teams were locked in a back-and-forth battle for the rest of the half. Kenyon closed the opening period with a one-point lead, 36-35, thanks largely to a plus-12 mark from three-point range after shooting 6-16 compared to Stevenson’s 2-5 mark.

The closely contested contest persisted throughout the second half as neither team led by more than four until the 1:15 mark. The Owls held the edge for most of the first half of the frame, but an 8-2 Stevenson stretch near the midway point put the Mustangs in front for most of the second 10 minutes. 

The Owls trailed 62-60 with three minutes left, but the Mustangs rode a 6-1 spurt to a seven-point lead, 68-61, with 42 seconds remaining. A layup by Mazon III cut the deficit to 68-63 with 33 seconds on the clock, but Stevenson closed out the game from the free throw line to clinch a 72-67 win.

Kenyon has a quick turnaround as they prepare to take on Marymount University in less than 24 hours for their second day at the Daytona Beach Shootout. The Owls and Saints are scheduled to face off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

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