The Cedarville women’s basketball team’s latest game was a tale of two halves. The Cougars of Mount Vernon Nazarene kept the game interesting early on, but the Jackets pulled away in the second half, winning 82-61 in their home opener.
The Jackets started out struggling to find rhythm offensively and play intense defense.Senior guard and team captain Raegan Ryan said she attributed this to jitters due to this game being their first home game.
The first ten minutes of the first half included shifts of momentum between the Jackets and the Cougars. The Jackets continued to try to push the tempo while the Cougars preferred to slow it down and run a half-court offense.
In the second part of the first half, Cedarville began to gain control of the contest. They moved the ball and generated offense through steals and transition buckets. The Cougars had a hard time keeping up and the Jackets finished the half on a 7-0 run to lead the game, 33-23. The Jackets limited the Cougars’ leading scorer, Megan Beidelman, to four points in the first half.
The momentum continued in Cedarville’s favor in the second half. The Jackets seemed like a totally different team. Ryan said she thought the added intensity on the defensive end played a big part in the Jacket’s second-half outburst.
“We stepped up defensively and dictated what (the Cougars) did,” she said. “The offense fell into place after struggling in the first half.”
The Jackets ended up winning with relative ease, 82-61. Ryan led the team with 18 points, six assists and seven steals. Freshman guard Regina Hochstetler provided extra scoring for the Jackets, pouring in a career-high 15 points. Junior forward Kayla Linkous added 14 points and a game-high five rebounds, and junior guard Kaysie Brittenham had 11 points and five steals. The Jackets spread the ball around, and their entire roster made it into the scoring column.
Head coach Kirk Martin said even though he was happy with the win, he still saw things that need improvement. The Jackets gave up 14 offensive rebounds to a much smaller team.
“We absolutely have to start rebounding,” he said. “You cannot play the better teams in our conference and not rebound. I know we’ve been successful so far, but we’ve got to start rebounding the basketball.”
Martin also talked about the importance of the balance between the freshmen and returning players like Ryan, Brittenham and Linkous. He said he saw it as a good thing because it allows the freshman to adjust to the college level without having to force it because the team already has a core group of returners.
The Jackets (4-1) play their next game at home on Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 5:30 p.m. against Ferris State University.
Byron Brown is a junior global business major and sports reporter for Cedars. He plays for the JV basketball team here at Cedarville. His hobbies include playing sports, exercising, watching sports, eating and watching movies.