Lords Take a Win and A Loss on The Road
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012 02:12
After a tough loss to a strong Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) team on Dec 5, the Lords recovered nicely on Saturday with a 70-65 road win over the Albion College Britons. Tuesday night, however, the Lords suffered a slim 74-70 defeat at the hands of rival Denison University.
There was a lot to like about the Albion game last Saturday. The Lords rallied from a three-point halftime deficit, and Ikenna Nwadibia ’14 led the Lords with a season-high 26 points, scoring 20 in the second half and seven of the last eight points in the game. He shot a strong 8-13 from the field and went 10-14 from the free-throw line.
Nwadibia is one of the toughest one-on-one matchups in the entire North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). His combination of strength and speed allows him to get to the basket almost at will, and it seems that the only thing other teams can do to stop him is to foul him. His 71.4 percent free-throw average for the Albion game is well above his season average of 59.4 percent. Nwadibia’s free-throw proficiency will be key in the Lords’ season moving forward.
Also making a strong contribution in the Albion game was Jonathan Amador ’15, who came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers on seven attempts. Amador and Julian Pavlin ’14 had a combined seven of the Lords’ nine 3s for the game, helping them shoot a blistering 50 percent as a team. Starting point guard Cooper Handelsman ’15, who led the team with five assists, summed up the Lords’ effort best when he said, “We played well as a team. We made the necessary adjustments throughout the game. Jon [Amador] kept us in the game with his shooting and Ike [Nwadibia] closed it out for us.”
Despite double-digit scoring from Nwadibia, Brian Lebowitz ’14 and Pavlin, and double-doubles from Nwadibia and Lebowitz, the Lords’ comeback attempt against Denison fell short. They trailed the Big Red the whole game. With 8:23 left in the first half, the Lords were down by 26 points. They cut the deficit to 18 at the half and managed to further reduce it to only two with 23 seconds left. Unfortunately, a pair of Denison free-throws put the game out of reach.
The Lords have a 5-3 record and they are 1-2 in NCAC play. The team has had multiple wins on the road, which has impressed Lords Head Coach Dan Priest. “We’ve won three road games already, which is a pretty big accomplishment. A couple of years ago, we had a season we’d win one, maybe two games on the road,” he said.
It is also impressive because the team is young — this year, the Lords have no seniors. “We do have a lot of experience, a lot of guys who’ve played a lot, but we don’t have any seniors,” Priest said. “It’s different, because our captains are juniors and most of the time you have at least a senior or two … the leaders of the team have to be younger guys. Our sophomores have to show some leadership. We put a little bit more responsibility on those guys at an earlier stage in their career than a traditional team.”
The Lords have already played some of their toughest games of the season — OWU; DePauw University, a team the Lords beat on the road 68-64 on Dec. 1, and the College of Wooster, whom the Lords will face in Tomsich Arena this Friday, were all ranked nationally in the top 25 over the course of this year.
However, that does not mean the season will get easier for the Lords after winter break. “Our league doesn’t have any bad teams, so once we get through this stretch, there’s no easy games for us,” Priest said, “but this first part of our schedule was loaded with some of the heavier ones.”
The Lords will look to get off to a faster start against 12th-ranked Wooster on Friday, their last game before the end of the semester. Prior to the Denison game, Handelsman said, “We have two big conference games this week that are important so they would be great wins to have before the break.” Given the loss to Denison, Friday’s game against Wooster is even more important. Priest would like to see a lot of Kenyon support at the game. “It can be a little bit of a study break,” he said. We’re hoping we can have a fun atmosphere.”