by Joshua Stevens
Cedarville lost a tough game to Ohio Dominican on Saturday, 63-58. The loss keeps the Jackets at 9th place in the G-MAC standings, which would keep them out of the conference tournament.
After a big overtime win in Nashville against Trevecca a week earlier, the Jackets (11-12, 6-10 GMAC) came home seeking a second straight win against the Panthers (13-10, 8-8 GMAC), and momentum to keep their conference tournament hopes alive.
The first half had promising signs for the Jackets, as they were able to penetrate to the basket and get inside scoring early on. Forwards Robert Okoro and Conner TenHove got plenty of opportunities in the paint. They each had 12 points and nine rebounds on the night.
Even with the inside scoring for the Jackets, the Panthers kept the game interesting. They knocked down four 3-pointers in the half, and mustered a 10-point lead midway through the half. The Jackets retaliated, and went on a 10-0 run, with TenHove hitting a smooth jumper to tie the game with 4:25 left.
The Jackets went to the locker room with a 31-30 lead, due in large part to Okoro and guard Colton Linkous, who each had eight points in the half. The Jackets also played a good defensive half, holding the Panthers to 34 percent from the floor.
The beginning of the second half was a dogfight, as neither defenses allowed the offenses to get open shots. The Jackets continued to go inside, and Okoro hit a nice turnaround jumper with a defender in his face to give the Jackets a 46-40 lead with 11 minutes left.
But over the next four minutes, the Jackets struggled to score, and the Panthers were able to go on their own 10-0 run.
“It’s the same MO for us,” Coach Pat Estepp said of the second half. “We’re hitting a wall, and we’re struggling.”
The Jackets kept it close, but were never able to get the lead back, as Ohio Dominican came away with the win. The Jackets shot just 30 percent in the second half and had 12 total turnovers. Both teams had under 10 assists for the game as well, as the Panthers had five and the Jackets had seven.
“We’ve got to quit walking into the locker room feeling like we beat ourselves.” Estepp said. “They made some plays, but we kind of beat ourselves.”
The win puts the Panthers in 6th place in the G-MAC standings, which would get them into the conference tournament. The Jackets are currently on the outside looking in, and have a tough road game on Tuesday against Findlay, the first-place team in the G-MAC. They then finish the season with a home stretch, with games against Lake Erie, Davis & Elkins, and Alderson Broaddus.
“Our margin for error right now is thin.” Estepp said. “We can’t afford some of the breakdowns we’ve had late.”
Joshua Stevens is a sophomore journalism major and sports writer for Cedars. He enjoys rooting for the Tennessee Titans and listening to old-school music.