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No. 8 men’s basketball improves to 6-0, Kahl reaches the 1,000-point mark

Courtesy of Tim Phillis/CWRU Athletics
During the CWRU men’s baskball game against Kalamazoo College, graduate student forward Colin Kahl surpassed the 1,000-point mark of his basketball career.

The Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team hosted two non-conference opponents last week, Capital University on Wednesday Nov. 29 and Kalamazoo College on Saturday Dec. 2. CWRU put up a fight against previously unbeaten Capital, winning 94-87. The matchup with Kalamazoo, whom CWRU beat by 35 last year, was surprisingly close through the first half. However, the Spartans pulled away in the second half, finishing a triple digit game for the second time this season with 100-73.

Graduate forward Colin Kahl surpassed 1,000 career points with a layup with 7:51 to play in the Kalamazoo matchup. Kahl was named the UAA Athlete of the Week for men’s basketball for his efforts in both games. He averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2 blocks over the two contests, while shooting 73.9% (17-23) from the floor, 55.6% (5-9) on 3-point attempts and 71.4% (5-9) from the free throw line.

CWRU has now won 26 consecutive non-conference games in the regular season. The Spartan’s strong start to the season continues to be reflected in the national polls, as they moved up to number 8 in the Top 25 poll. CWRU is now the highest-ranked UAA team, as they are one spot ahead of conference foe New York University.

The matchup with Capital was expectedly tough. The Comets were 6-0 coming into the game and lost narrowly to Division I Howard University in a pre-season scrimmage. The Spartans started off firing on all cylinders and it looked like they wouldn’t have any trouble in this Wednesday night showdown.

But then the Comets came back. They would go on a series of runs until taking a 31-23 lead with 5:55 remaining in the first half. CWRU’s saving grace would be third-year guard Sam Trunley, who scored 11 points off the bench in the first to fuel a 20-4 Spartan run over the final 4:16 of the half. This culminated in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Trunley as he dribbled down the length of the court with the seconds ticking off the clock and pulled up for a deep shot that sent the team into the locker room motivated and ready to fight for the final 20 minutes of play. The score was 48-39 at the half with the Spartans leading.

The late run in the first half woke the sleeping giant, as CWRU went on another run to start the second half. A 14-0 run brought the score to 71-50 with 12:53 remaining. Basketball is a game of runs and the Comets responded just as they had early in the game. They chipped away for the next nine minutes of play until it was a two-point game with just under four minutes to play. Graduate student guard Preston Maccoux would respond with a 3-pointer at 3:15 remaining to bring it back to a two-possession game, continuing a game-long 3-point onslaught from the Spartans culminating in 13 points.

Kahl and Trunley continued this by hitting 3-pointers of their own to bring it back to a somewhat comfortable margin. Free throws down the stretch sealed the game for the Spartans, as Trunley helped secure the win while bringing up his tally to a career-high 24 points. He made 5 3-pointers and went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Trunley added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal to cap off an impressive performance off the bench for CWRU. Kahl made a big impact as well, scoring 18 points and adding a team-high 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. The final margin was 94-87 Spartans.


The second game was much less dramatic than the first but similar as both matchups featured ultra-competitive first halves. The Saturday afternoon game against Kalamazoo started as a back-and-forth affair, with neither squad mustering anything resembling a comfortable lead through 12 minutes of play. Coincidentally, that’s when Kahl started to go on a tear. He scored 7 unanswered points as part of a 9-0 Spartan run that gave them a 36-27 lead. Kalamazoo responded in turn, and it took an 8-2 CWRU run to re-establish a decent lead going into the half. The score was 46-36 as the teams headed into their locker rooms.

A strong start to the second half from the Spartans blew the game open. CWRU knew they were the much better team and they acted like it as Kalamazoo fell victim to a lethal Spartan offense. Kahl, who entered the game with 980 points (907 of which he scored during his four years at Sewanee: The University of the South), continued his offensive tear in the second half and surpassed the thousand-point mark with a layup at the 7:51 mark in the second half. Right before converting the shot, Kahl had a cut on his knee hastily bandaged up during a timeout so he could return to play. He obviously wasn’t affected at all, as he lumbered back over the court and proceeded to muscle his way to a basket that was announced as bringing him over the thousand-point mark at the next timeout. Kahl’s teammates quickly interrupted Head Coach Todd McGuinness’s remarks to congratulate him on this feat. More Kahl heroics pushed the lead to 84-57 with 6:36 to play, after which the reserves were ushered in.

As the game came to a close, first-year forward Elvin Stowell checked in and registered his first collegiate minutes. Fellow first-year guard Charlie Fox hit a jumper and a 3-pointer in quick succession to put CWRU ahead by 30, 97-67. The bench went crazy for another milestone reached in the game: first-year guard Jake Sambuchino’s first collegiate point in the form of a 3-pointer that put the Spartans at 100 points even.

CWRU won by 27 as they triumphed over Kalamazoo 100-73. Kahl had a monster game, finishing with a season-high 26 points on 10-13 shooting overall and 3-6 from behind the arc. He also added a team-leading 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. Kahl was held back for an interview and was greeted with a shower when he walked into the locker room as his teammates celebrated his achievement by pouring water on the smiling Kahl.

Graduate guard student Anthony Mazzeo continued his strong start to the season as he added 18 points, while third-year forward Umar Rashid scored 16 and Trunley finished with 10, making it back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts off the bench for the third-year guard.

Season-highs were omnipresent for the Spartans, as CWRU finished the game shooting 56.7% (38-67) from the floor and 48.5% (16-33) from 3-point range, both season-best marks. The Spartans also notched 23 assists, 9 blocks and 6 steals as a team, all season-highs for the nationally ranked squad.

The Spartans will now start a stretch of six away games, highlighted by the 2023 Classic in Las Vegas from Dec. 28-29. There, CWRU will face the current fourth ranked team in the nation, Oswego State, as well as Clark University. The next home game will be Friday, Jan. 12, as they host NYU.

The pieces continue to mesh and it seems that in every game someone new steps up. For now, we can expect more of the same from the Spartans as they look to wrap up the non-conference schedule the same way they started it. And as we turn the page to 2024, the Spartans will move into the gauntlet that is UAA conference play.

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