By Tony Maluso
It turned out the hole was just too deep.
A poor shooting first half had Heidelberg trailing Kenyon 27-14 at the break.
Despite the Student Princes picking up the offense in the second half, Kenyon kept them at arm's length and left Seiberling Gymnasium with a 64-56 victory.
"I knew coming in Kenyon would be the best team we played," Heidelberg coach Marcie Alberts said. "We talked about their two go-to kids in (Maureen) Hirt and (Kayla) Ernst. We talked about executing on both ends, ... and we played good defense the first half, I couldn't balk at our defense at all. But offensively we were putrid. There's no other word for it. It looked like we were on our heels the entire half. ... I liked the way we battled the second half, but again, you can't dig a 13-point hole against a good team and expect good things to happen in the second half."
Heidelberg took its only lead of the game at 8-7 when Paige Ricketts drove the lane for a layup with 7:47 left in the half. However, it didn't last long as the Ladies answered the very next possession with a Hirt jumper to kickstart a 12-0 run over the next four minutes.
Hirt tallied 13 of her game-high 21 in the first half, and Kenyon held Heidelberg to a 7-for-28 shooting performance in the first half to build its lead.
"We knew they like to penetrate to the basket, and we wanted to make sure we pinched off their penetration," Kenyon coach Suzanne Helfant said. "We didn't let them get to the rim whenever they wanted to, and I felt like we really stepped up and played good help side (defense)."
In the second half, things began to change.
Heidelberg's Kathleen Phillips opened up the second half sinking a 3-pointer, the first of the game for the Student Princes, and followed up the next time down the floor with a turnaround jumper to cut Kenyon's lead to eight.
However, as would be the case for most of the second half, the Ladies had an answer.
A pair of layups by Ernst and a jumper by Katie Adlam stretched the lead to 14.
But Heidelberg refused to go away. Emily Giel just wouldn't let it happen.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Giel connected on six 3-pointers in the second to keep her team in the game.
"We talked about it at halftime, we needed to calm down," Giel said. "We knew stuff would fall eventually. We seemed to be uncomfortable on offense; we were a little helter-skelter with everything. We needed to calm down, relax and play our game."
Twice before the 10 minute mark, Heidelberg had the lead trimmed to eight, but each time Kenyon was ready with an answer to keep the Student Princes from getting any closer.
"We started to trade baskets a few times I think," Giel said. "We missed a few defensive rotations and let them score some easy baskets. Trading baskets, it doesn't matter how much of a run we go on, if we give up the baskets it's not going to make a difference."
Adlam hit another jumper to give Kenyon its biggest lead at 17 (61-44) with under six minutes to play.
But the Student Princes had one more charge left in them.
Allie Hawkins knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 10-0 Heidelberg run. Giel hit another 3 and Phillips hit a layup to cut the lead to 61-54 with 1:18 left.
Heidelberg forced Kenyon into a turnover on its next possession, but couldn't convert on the offensive end, and time ran out on the comeback attempt.
"I think our kids kept our composure," Helfant said. "We talked about in a couple timeouts, just making sure we were slowing it down a bit, not taking quick shots. When they started to press us I thought we got a little bit antsy, but we were able to finish it off."
Giel's 18 points led Heidelberg. Phillips followed up with 13.
After shooting 28 percent in the first half, Heidelberg hit on 16 of 36 shots in the second, including 8 of 16 from behind the 3-point arc.
"We shot 25 percent the first half and 44 the second," Alberts said. "Making shots plays a huge role in basketball and we couldn't make anything the first half. It wouldn't matter if we were standing on the beach right beside the ocean, it wasn't going in. That was the difference the second half. We hit a couple early. We got some momentum and even when were down 17, ... we came out and still hit a couple shots and were able to cut it where we had the ball down seven with a minute and a half left, and gave ourselves a chance."
Kenyon (5-1) had three players scoring in double figures led by Hirt's 21. Ernst added 15 and eight rebounds while Adlam had 14 points and nine rebounds.