After a slow start, Wabash found the offensive and defensive footing and defeated Kenyon 85-57 in an NCAC game.
Down 24-22 with 7:52 left in the first half, the Little Giants offense posted a 23-9 finish to that half.
The defense kept their end up, holding the Lords without a field goal for more than 11 minutes from late in the first half to early in the second.
It was 63-40 at that point, and Wabash cruised to their fifth-straight win over Kenyon, moving to 9-6 overall and 5-3 in the league, while the Lords fell to 5-10 overall and 2-6 in the conference.
“I was really happy that we were able to grind out those first four to five minutes,” Little Giants coach Kyle Brumett said. “We had some built-in drive left from last Wednesday (a six-point loss to league-leading and No.2 nationally ranked Wittenberg). I thought we were playing well, but the players were still pressing a bit. Our second group of guys came in and gave us a bit of a lead, and then the starters went back in and extended it. When those first subs come in, we really hope to bring it up a notch, and when the starters went back in, they settled into what Kenyon was doing. Our defense also improved as the game went on.”
The defense held Kenyon to 36 percent shooting while the Little Giants got better as the game went on. After missing a handful of early shots, they finished the game with a 52 percent mark, and shot 40 percent from 3-point range, going 12-of-30.
Keeping the Lords off the glass was also high on the coach’s list.
“We only allowed them two second-chance points in each half. They only had one offensive rebound in the second half,” Brumett said, looking through the stat sheet. “That was a real positive. “We did a good job on the glass. Getting those defensive rebounds gets our transition game going. Jack (Davidson) is always a threat in transition. (Kellen) Schreiber and (Ahmoni) Jones were really good today running to the rim. They played ahead of the ball.”
Davidson led all scorers with 21 points, as the junior was slightly above his second-in-the conference season average of 19.7. Jones, off the bench, added 11.
Also coming off the bench was Justin Hensley, and the freshman from Cathedral dropped five treys for 15 points. Tyler Watson had 17 to complete the foursome in double-digits. Hensley’s five three-pointers ties the Wabash season-high.
“Watson and Hensley combined to shoot 8-of-17 from 3-point range,” Brumett said. “I’m not sure about shooting 30 three’s, but we are a 3-point threat, and with the shot clock, you can’t turn down good looks. We did that a couple times today. With the shot clock, you have to be ready to shoot if you have a good look. We aren’t getting the volume of free throws like most teams I have coached in the past, so we will have to make those three’s.”
The Lords were led in scoring by Ugnius Zilinskas with 17 points, followed by Elijah Davis with 10. Kenyon shot only 24 percent in the second half and finished at 36 percent from the field. They had 27 rebounds to 39 for Wabash. Harrison Hallstrom led the Little Giants with seven.
“We aren’t there yet,” Brumett said, “but we are getting closer. We have the second half of the conference schedule left, and a lot of good teams have to come here. We have a lot of home games left, and winning at home is huge in any league. We were undefeated at home in the league last year, and they was a huge part of our success. We have a lot of young guys, who will be more comfortable at home, so if we can win these home games, we can put ourselves in good position. Our seniors are so important. We’ve got Alex Eberhard playing himself back into basketball shape (injury), Colten Garland was in double-figures the last two games, and Hallstrom just joined the 1,000 point club and is one of our all-time leading rebounders. They can help bring our younger guys along.”
Next up for the Little Giants is a trip to Greencastle to take on DePauw.
The game is Wednesday, with tip time scheduled for 7 pm.