By Pat Jameson
Men’s basketball fell to the Kenyon Lords last Saturday, falling 53-61 in a nail biter at the Wise Center. Kenyon (8-9 5-5 NCAC) needed overtime and a late defensive stand to drop the host Gators (3-15 0-11 NCAC), who now have lost ten games in a row.
Despite the loss, Allegheny Head Coach James Driggs said he was happy with his team’s defensive performance.
“We played our zone well versus Kenyon,” said Driggs. “Anytime you can hold a team to 31 percent field goal shooting and 51 points you should have a chance to win.”
Josh Valentic, ’15, led the Allegheny offense with 14 points while Ryan Stanko, ’14, added 11 of his own. Rookie Sam Calhoun put forth a strong effort as he snagged a game high 13 rebounds while scoring nine points. Calhoun’s rebound total was the second highest for the Gators this year.
Calhoun started the scoring for the Gators, hitting a three pointer two minutes in to tie the game at 3-3. Following this, consecutive shots by Calhoun and Valentic made it 9-5 in favor of Allegheny. It would prove to be the largest lead the Gators would hold in the first half.
A Kenyon run with two minutes remaining made it 28-22 in favor of the Lords.
Valentic closed the gap a minute later with a clutch three ball and a Stanko layup pulled the Gators within one.
Allegheny ended up heading into halftime down 27-28.
Kenyon started out hot in the second half, jumping ahead 36-30 five minutes into the half. Valentic came through once more for the Gators with another field goal from beyond the arc to close the gap to three. Calhoun’s ensuing jumper and a Clark Tritto, ’14, layup put Allegheny on top for the first time in nearly 20 minutes of play. Several missed baskets later, a clutch three pointer by Brian Holland, ’16, made it 42-41 in favor of the Gators. The game remained scoreless for several minutes as neither side was able to score.
The Lords tied the game at 51 with two minutes left following a D’Andre Corbin three. The last two minutes was a back and forth affair as neither team could score the final bucket.
Calhoun snagged a Kenyon missed shot with a minute left, setting the stage for a Gator victory.
The home team called a timeout to set the play and after several passes, Corbin’s jumper with 30 seconds left came up short and sent the game into overtime.
Stanko opened up overtime with a layup but it would prove to be the Gators’ only points in the extra period. Kenyon blanked Allegheny’s offense and scored 10 straight to end the game on a disappointing note for the Gator faithful.
“You have to give Kenyon credit for making a few more plays in overtime,” Driggs said of the loss. “I thought when we are up 53-51 and got a couple stops and then got to the free throw line that the momentum was in our favor. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize.”
Valentic echoed this sentiment, saying that it was Kenyon’s ability to rebound that proved the deciding factor.
“The biggest key for us was rebounding the ball,” said Valentic, “We gave up too many offensive rebounds and that cost us the game.”
This Friday the Gators travel to Greencastle, Indiana to play against the DePauw Tigers. On Saturday, they make the short trip from to DePauw to face off against Wabash College at 1 p.m.
“This weekend is a big one for us,” said Clark Tritto. “Against DePauw it’s all about rebounding and defending the post. Saturday against Wabash we have to limit their shooters and keep them off the three point line. We need to run our offense and make smart plays and we should have a good weekend.”
With six games remaining, the Gators need to make a push if they are to make the NCAC tournament next month. However, three of the remaining six teams are in the top five in the conference standings. With a little luck and some skillful play, Allegheny could sneak into the tournament.
“We need to get a conference win soon,” Valentic said. “Hopefully it happens this weekend in Indiana.”