GAMBIER, Ohio-- It took three overtimes but the Denison men's basketball team escaped Tomsich Arena with a gutsy 84-83 victory over Kenyon College. With the win, Denison improves to 5-1 on the year while remaining unbeaten in North Coast Athletic Conference play.
Just to force an overtime period the Big Red had a major hill to climb thanks to a 13-point lead by the Lords late in the first half. Denison chipped away at the deficit and a jumper by Johnny Vernasco with 12:13 to play in the second half gave DU its first lead since early in the first half. Denison built a seven-point lead but Kenyon's Matt Shifrin got hot from beyond the arc and four 3-pointers later, Kenyon tied the game with 49 seconds left in regulation. Denison had two chances to win in regulation but both attempts were off the mark.
In the first overtime, things looked bleak for Denison after Ben Stern's bucket with 20 seconds left put the Lords up by three, 70-67. After a Denison timeout, the Big Red turned to senior Maxwell Siwik who cashed in from beyond the arc, forcing a second OT.
Kenyon led by two through most of the second overtime until another 3-pointer by Siwik put DU up 75-74 with 2:17 to play. Kenyon's Ben Stern answered from long range but Garrett Collier followed with a layup down low to tie the game at 77-77 with just over a minute to play. This time, Kenyon had two chances to win the game but both attempts were off the mark.
In the third overtime, fatigue became more apparent for both squads. With Kenyon leading by two with 2:01 to play, Denison's will and determination was put to the test. After a missed triple by Claude Chandonnet, Vernasco made a diving save while crashing into his own bench to keep the play alive. Vernasco missed his shot attempt and the ball went back to Kenyon. With 42 seconds on the clock, Stern missed a mid-range jumper but Vernasco was there for the rebound. At the other end, Vernasco was fouled and the senior split the pair. After missing the second free throw, Collier chased down an improbable offensive rebound in the corner, opposite the Denison bench. Collier was fouled and he sank both free throws to put his squad up one with seven seconds remaining.
The Lords got an open look but Phillip Crampton's 3-pointer was off the mark and Matt Doyle was there with the rebound as the final horn sounded. After 55 minutes of basketball, eight lead changes and 14 tie game situations, Denison snuck out of Gambier with the 84-83 win.
Six players scored in double figures for DU as Collier led the way with 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in 43 minutes. Siwik followed with 16 points and five rebounds. Chandonnet finished with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals while Vernasco tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Fred Brou was Denison's final player to reach double digits as he dropped in 10 points in 24 minutes.
Kenyon was paced by Shifrin who's 7-for-13 showing from 3-point land resulted in a game-high 23 points.
Denison shot 43 percent from the field (31-for-73) and was 11-of-31 from 3-point range (36 percent). Kenyon shot 36 percent from the field and was 32 percent from downtown.
Denison's last triple-overtime game occurred 11 years ago to the day when the Big Red fell to Wittenberg 100-85 at Livingston Gymnasium.
The Big Red will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 6 when they host Oberlin at 7:30 p.m.