Central State Secures Victory With 55-point Second Half
Cedarville’s defensive lapses in the second half in their 84-80 loss to Central State University (18-8) on Tuesday night ended the Yellow Jackets (17-8) seven-game winning streak and perfect home record this season.
The Marauders jumped out to an 11-7 lead in the first five minutes of the game. Austin Foote and Zach Brown each contributed a crowd-igniting three-pointer as the Yellow Jackets worked their way to a 20-20 tie with eight minutes left in the half. Cedarville went on to outscore Central State 23-9 in the remainder of the half, bringing the game to 43-29 at halftime.
Cedarville shot 43.2% from the floor in the first, going 5-10 from three-point range, and Central State shot a similar 41.4%, but hit 3 of their 10 three-point attempts in the first half.
The two teams were evenly contested coming out of the break. The Marauders fought back to close their deficit to six with just over four minutes left to play. From that point on, Central State dominated and was able to take an 81-80 lead off of a huge three pointer from their leading scorer with 40 seconds left on the clock. The Yellow Jackets missed two shots from behind the arc in the last 10 seconds, while Central State closed the game with a score of 84-80.
Central State had a 55-point second half, shooting an incredible 76.9% from the floor. Head coach Pat Estepp said that his team was fortunate to have the 14-point lead at the half or else this game would have been a blowout.
“You’re not going to win a game against a good team if you don’t defend and you don’t stop dribble penetration,” Estepp said, “and we just did a terrible job at that tonight.”
On offense, Cedarville shot 52.0% in the second half, but were uncharacteristically unsuccessful from beyond the arc, missing all seven of their long-range attempts. The team shot 11-17 from the free throw line in the second half, and Estepp said that missed shots from the charity strip were important.
“We missed some crucial free throws when we got a chance to keep a six-to-eight-point lead,” Estepp said. “We missed them, and then [Central State] came down and kept chipping away at it.”
Estepp gave the Marauders a lot of credit, saying they attacked well, forcing Cedarville into some foul trouble. Also, he said that Central State, a fellow charter member of the newly formed Great Midwest Athletic Conference, is one of the biggest and most athletic teams the Yellow Jackets face.
Estepp said he sees this game as a learning experience, in that Cedarville has not had a close game for a while. The Yellow Jackets had won their last six games by double digits.
Though the second half consisted of subpar Cedarville defense, some players shined offensively. Of the 21 points that Zimmy Nwogbo collected, 13 came in the second. Brian Grant
also contributed 12 points in the half, bringing his game total to 19. Grant also led the team in rebounds with eight. Foote and Brown, who were crucial in offense in the first half in particular, each finished with 14 points on the night.
The Yellow Jackets will take the court for the last time this regular season in the matchup againstMalone on Saturday.