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Testa takes over NCAC Tournament, but Owls bow out

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind.– Lacing up for what would be the final time in his collegiate career, Kenyon College senior Anthony Testa took center stage in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal matchup between the Owls and the hosting Wabash College Little Giants. The No. 8-seeded Owls fell to the top-seeded Little Giants by a score of 84-65 on Wabash’s Chadwick Court, bringing a close to Kenyon’s 2023-24 campaign.

Though the Owls could not muster an upset victory, it was not for lack of trying, particularly when talking about Testa. The sharpshooter netted a career-high 25 points, and he was lights out from three-point territory, making eight trifectas in 13 tries. The mark set a new career best for field goals made and attempted in a game, and the eight triples tie Testa with nine other Kenyon players for the most in program history, just two shy of the record of 10 made.

Testa’s scoring tear was even more impressive, considering he missed his first two looks from downtown and didn’t score a point until there were just under three minutes remaining in the first half. The guard made his first four attempts in the second frame and scored 16 points over a 23-9 Kenyon run that lasted about 12 minutes. He finished the game leading all players in points and minutes (36) while snagging three rebounds, and his two best games of the season came when lining up against the Little Giants after a 15-point outing in the last matchup.

The game went Kenyon’s way early as the Owls came out and struck first against the home team over the first few possessions. Gefen Bar-Cohen, the team’s leading scorer this season, got things going by converting an and-one on the first possession. After a couple of defensive stops, Murathan Kocaman got inside and kept Kenyon on top early with a five-point edge.

Wabash responded with a 5-0 run before Nick Nelson knocked down a jumper to put the Owls up by two after three minutes of action, but the Little Giants hit a go-ahead three on the next trip to take a lead they would not relinquish, showing why they are the No. 1 seed in the NCAC Tournament. The three-pointer sparked a 9-0 Wabash run, and the home team outscored Kenyon 50-22 over the rest of the half to take a 55-29 lead into the locker room after shooting a sizzling 62.5 percent (20-for-32) in the first frame.

Kenyon did most of the scoring in the second half, posting a 36-29 margin, but Wabash scored 14 of the half’s first 22 points, pushing their lead to a game-high 32 at 69-37 with about 14 minutes remaining. The Owls caught fire from distance from there, and Dylan Fuerst ignited a 13-4 run that featured four Kenyon treys. After Fuerst’s first make, his fellow senior Testa took over and hit three threes in just over a minute. The looks got progressively tougher as he got the hoop plus the harm on a four-point play before capping the red-hot stretch with a fastbreak make off a Lucas Friedman assist. Kenyon’s senior trio cut the deficit down to 17 late after combining for a 9-0 run that featured free throws from Drew Valentino and Fuerst before two more Testa triples, but with just a minute and a half remaining, the Owls were out of time to extend their season.

Wabash had three double-figure scorers and was led by Ahmoni Jones, who scored 18 points on nine shots. It was an efficient effort for the leading scorers as Avery Beaver and Sam Comer scored 14 points apiece and combined to shoot 11 for 14 from the floor. Defensively, Noah Hupmann was credited with seven blocks as he shored up that side of the ball.

Bar-Cohen broke into double digits with 10 points, but Wabash made it tough as he shot 3-of-9 overall. However, the junior pressed the issue, drawing contact and earning five shots at the charity stripe, where he made four freebies.

Connor Moss chipped in nine points, followed by six from Valentino. Valentino also tied a career-high with a game-best four assists, and his six rebounds tied Charlie Heywood for a game-high on the glass.

Kenyon, playing in the NCAC Tournament for the first time since 2017, finished the season with a 5-21 overall record and a 3-13 mark in conference contests. Wabash won the regular-season NCAC Championship after a 13-3 mark in league play, and they improved to 18-8 overall while advancing to the tournament semifinal.

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