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Second-half offensive uptick helps Cardinals clip Owls 

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College women’s basketball team emerged from a first-half slog with a lead and caught fire from three-point range in the fourth to take a late lead, but Otterbein University (5-4, 2-2 OAC) closed out the Owls to win 57-50. Kenyon falls to 2-7 (0-1 NCAC) with the loss in their final home game of 2022.

Katie Orefice scored a game-high 13 points, but it took her 19 shots as the Otterbein defense blocked her four times and forced many tough looks. The senior also dished out a game-high three assists as she helped the Owls stay close despite having to grind out offensive outputs.

Claudia Cooke thrived at the charity stripe, scoring nine points after shooting 7-7 from the free-throw line, helping the Owls double Otterbein’s free-throw output (16-8). Anissa Hardy finished with eight points, six rebounds, and two assists on an efficient 4-6 clip, while Alyssa Gest added eight points thanks to a pair of triples and free throws. 

Through one quarter, it looked like Otterbein was going to control the game. The Cardinals led by nine, 11-2, after holding Kenyon to a 1-11 clip from the field through eight and a half minutes. However, Kenyon’s post players Anissa Hardy and Claudia Cooke chipped in two points apiece before the end of the frame, cutting the deficit to five and giving the Owls a momentum boost they would carry into the second quarter.

Each team only made one field goal in the second period, with the Owls shooting 1-11 (9.1 percent) and the Cardinals hitting one of 12 shots (8.3 percent). Despite the lack of offense, Kenyon outscored Otterbein 8-2 in the period thanks to six free throws on eight attempts. 

The 12-2 run from the end of the first quarter through halftime gave the home team a 14-13 lead at the break, despite the Owls making just three field goals and shooting 12.5 percent from the floor and 0-7 from three-point range.

Hardy made the first shot of the second half to put Kenyon up 16-13, but that would mark the Owls’ largest lead. Hardy scored six of Kenyon’s first eight second-half points, but the Cardinals clutched a five-point edge at the quarter’s end after knocking down a late triple.

Kenyon came out on fire from downtown in the fourth as Alyssa Gest converted a triple on the opening possession. The three-point shooting helped the Owls battle back as Kenyon went 4-6 from deep while Otterbein made their lone trifecta.

That Cardinal’s triple put the visitors ahead 40-33 with 8:28 on the clock. Another Gest triple after an Orefice jumper cut the deficit to two, but Otterbein’s lead swelled back to seven at 45-38.

It was there that Alexis Newman got into the scorebook, knocking down two triples that sandwiched an and-one play from Mikayla Rudolph. The first-years’ scoring propelled Kenyon to a 9-2 run, tying the game at 47. 

Gest went 1-2 from the charity stripe at the 1:39 mark to put the Owls ahead 50-49, but the make marked Kenyon’s final point. Otterbein finished the game on an 8-0 run, shooting 2-2 from the floor and 4-4 from the free throw line, while the Owls went 0-3 despite getting good looks.

The Owls will look to bounce back on the road when they head to Las Vegas, Nevada, for two games from Dec. 29-30. Kenyon is set to take on Amherst College and Concordia College (Minn.) as part of the D3 Hoops Classic before opening 2023 with a home game on Jan. 4.

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