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Shooting woes sink Owls’ chances against Oberlin

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College Owls scratched and clawed to stay in Wednesday night’s men’s basketball game with Oberlin College. In the end, however, the Owls’ shooting woes were too much to overcome and the visiting Yeomen escaped with a 58-57 win.

Kenyon (7-10, 0-8 NCAC) struggled mightily from three-point range and didn’t fare a whole lot better at the free throw line. The Owls dug an early hole for themselves by missing their first 14 three-point attempts. It wasn’t until there was 3:57 left on the first half clock that Juan Sergio Matabuena buried the team’s first three-ball. At that point, however, Kenyon trailed Oberlin 28-20.

The Owls missed their next two three-pointers, bringing them to 1-of-17 (5.9 percent) from long range during the first 20 minutes of play. That translated into a 34-26 deficit at the half.

To their credit, the Owls never threw in the towel. As the second-half unfolded, Kenyon slowly chipped away at the Oberlin lead. Consecutive layups from Drew Valentino and Nick Nelson brought the Owls within four points, at 38-34.

Oberlin (5-12, 1-7 NCAC) moved back ahead by eight, but Kenyon still kept forging ahead. The Owls got another layup from Nelson, followed by a trio of free throws for Gefen Bar-Cohen, and trimmed the Yeomen lead down to 46-44 with 9:42 still left to play.

Oberlin managed to cling to the lead for the next seven minutes, but with 2:46 on the clock, a long pass from Miles Versa found a wide-open Kamal Aubakirov, who snapped in a three-pointer to tie the game at 52-52.

The Yeomen answered again, scoring the next four points and never relinquishing the lead. Kenyon had chances down the stretch, but a turnover and two missed shots gave Oberlin all the room it needed to squeak out the win.

A three-pointer from Anthony Testa at the buzzer made it a one-point contest, but that was just Kenyon’s third three-point make in 26 attempts (11.5 percent) throughout the game. The Owls didn’t do themselves any favors at the free throw line, either. After going 3-for-3 at the stripe in the first half, the team finished 8-of-16 (50.0 percent) for the game.

Bar-Cohen managed a game-high 16 points. Nelson tallied a dozen points, grabbed six rebounds and piled up five steals. David Mazon III scored six and grabbed nine rebounds, while Valentino scored another six and grabbed seven rebounds.

Andrew Gannon chalked up 13 and was Oberlin’s leading scorer. Anastasis Spyroglou added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Yeomen, who didn’t take the same volume of three-pointers as Kenyon, but didn’t shoot any better, either. Oberlin finished the game 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from beyond the arc. At the line, however, Oberlin was 12-of-15 (80.0 percent).

Up next for the Owls is a short trip to Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. conference contest with the Battling Bishops.

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