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Hawks even record

MURFREESBORO – This one was easy after the first 40 seconds.

That’s when Chowan University Hawks men’s basketball fans saw a soft jump shot, a steal and a lay-up, and another steal and a rim-rattling dunk – and all before they were nice and cozy in their seats. 

It helped propel coach Jim Tribbett’s team to it’s first win of the season, an 83-69 romp over Lees-McRae Saturday afternoon at the Helms Center.

Junior guard Chris Kenon poured in 23 points, dished out four assists and swiped another quartet of steals while teammate sophomore Jaleel Nelson chipped in 19 points and freshman Layth Mansour added 13 points and nine rebounds – one short of his first Hawks career double-double – in the easy win that evened Chowan’s record to 1-1 on the young 2007-08 season.

Nick DeSchepper had 22 points to lead the scoring for Lees-McRae, who fell to 0-2.

&uot;I felt real good early,&uot; said a smiling Kenon after the game. &uot;I had a good hard warm-up so I knew I could hit my shots today.&uot;

Kenon was 8-of-11 from the floor – 4-of-6 from three-point range - and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. 

&uot;We played hard-nosed defense from the get-go,&uot; he added, &uot;so it all came together for us offensively and defensively.&uot;

The Hawks opened the scoring with Kenon finding Mansour under the basket for an easy turnaround jump shot and a 2-0 lead.  Then freshman Raul Tutelea stole the ball in the Bobcats’ frontcourt and tossed it to a streaking Nelson for an easy lay-up and a four-point lead.

On the next trip up the court, Lees-McRae didn’t even make it to the half-court line as Nelson made a steal and this time thrilled the crowd with a thunderous slam-dunk and a 6-0 Chowan score. 

And only 35 seconds had ticked off the clock.

The Hawks would push that lead to eight points and by the eight-minute mark in the first half were coasting comfortably with a double-figure lead that they pushed to 20 points at halftime, 40-20. 

They shot 63 per cent for the half and scored nine points on Bobcat turnovers. More importantly was the way they wiped the glass: with 13 of their 15 rebounds coming on the defensive end.

&uot;We tried to pick it up with our intensity,&uot; said Kenon. &uot;We still had a little bit of a hangover from that loss to Queens (74-73 Thursday night on a last-second shot) so we tried to take it out on them a little bit.  We were glad we had another game a coupla days later after we took that hard loss.&uot; 

&uot;We had more athleticism, though they had some pretty good size and good shooters,” Tribbett said afterwards. “We’re still trying to find our chemistry with this new season, find our identity of who this team really is; and while we can’t be great at everything we want to be known for playing hard night in and night out each half.&uot;

Chowan pushed the score out to their biggest lead of the game at 26 points in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the second half at 52-26 on a Kenon three-pointer. Despite a few defensive lapses, they coasted the rest of the way, finishing the game shooting 31-of-49 for over 63 percent and an even 8-of-16 beyond the three-point arc – where they’re outscoring their opponents for the season, 51 per cent to 33 per cent, led by Kenon who leads the team in average: hitting 71 per cent from beyond 22 feet.  Elsewhere in the stats the Hawks have seven blocked shots in their first two games.

&uot;I think we want to become a really good defensive basketball team,&uot; said Tribbett, &uot;and holding them to 29 per cent shooting in the first half is pretty good in anybody’s book.&uot;

Chowan will now hit the road for their next five games beginning tonight (Tuesday) at USC-Aiken in South Carolina.  After a return to Murfreesboro for Thanksgiving they are off to Petersburg and a Saturday date with Virginia State. 

They’ll close out the month and open December in the Catawba Classic in Salisbury for a pair of games on November 30 and December 1 (against the host Indians and later Mars Hill). 

The Hawks are then in Laurinburg December 5 against St. Andrew’s before returning to the Helms Center December 13 against Mt. Olive.