by Tim Miller
The No. 22 Cedarville Lady Jackets fell in a marathon of a game to the Findlay Oilers on Saturday afternoon, 92-83 in two overtimes. Junior guard Baylee Bennett reached a career high in points with 32 on 8-11 shooting from behind the arc.
“I’m proud of Baylee for shooting very well,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “She’s been in a slump so I’m proud of her for getting her confidence back.”
Junior guard Regina Hochstetler added 15 points and senior guard Kaitlyn Holm had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“Credit to a very good basketball team,” Hoffman said. “They made plays in the overtime that we did not and it came down to defending. That’s where we started the game not in sync.”
Bennett made the first bucket of the game, but Findlay responded with seven straight points within three minutes. Bennett netted a triple to cut Findlay’s lead to 7-5 with 6:46 left in the quarter.
The Oilers jumped to a 16-10 margin with 2:48 remaining and took a six-point advantage at the end of the first quarter, leading 20-14. Findlay shot 60 percent in the first fram compared to Cedarville’s 42 percent.
Findlay extended its lead to 11 points with a triple with 8:12 remaining in the second. The Lady Jackets failed to score in the second quarter until freshman guard Ashlyn Huffman dropped a pass into senior forward Breanne Watterworth’s lap, and Watterworth found an easy layup. With 5:27 left, the Lady Jackets trailed 30-16.
Bennett splashed another 3-pointer with 3:55 left to bring the Lady Jackets within 10 points at 33-23. Cedarville continued to flirt with chopping the Oiler lead to single digits and Hochstetler finally did it with a last-second shot, hitting a triple with five seconds four seconds left.
Findlay took a 41-32 lead into the half. Hochstetler and Bennett each had eight points in the first 20 minutes, and Holm had five points, three assists and two rebounds.
The Lady Jackets, who came into the game as the second-best shooting team in NCAA Division II at 51 percent, shot 44 percent from the field. Findlay shot 58 percent from the field, and each team made half of their ten attempts from behind the arc.
The Lady Jackets got within seven points of Findlay, but the Oilers made a triple 6:36 left in the third quarter to push their lead back to 12. Cedarville called a timeout, trailing 49-37.
Cedarville scored seven straight points in just over a minute and were behind 52-44 with 4:15 on the clock. Findlay called a timeout after its minor meltdown.
Bennett was the only one to touch the ball on the Lady Jackets possession with 3:00 left, and the junior finished with her right hand, cutting Findlay’s lead to just five at 53-48.
With 1:33 left, Cedarville brought the game within one possession after Bennett zipped a bounce pass to senior forward Taylor Buckley which led to a layup. Findlay led just 54-52.
Buckley made a strong finish to yet again pull Cedarville within one possession with six seconds left. At the end of the third, Findlay led 59-56.
“We started being more aggressive,” Hoffman said of the comeback. “We started defending our tails off and went to a defense that stunned them. That was a huge change for us.”
Bennett dropped ten points in the quarter and Cedarville was 57 percent from the field, compared to Findlay shooting 46 percent.
Bennett continued her scorching stretch and tied the game with a trifecta with 5:55 left.
Cedarville had multiple chances to tie or take the lead within the next couple minutes but was unable to. With 2:03 remaining, Findlay called a timeout, holding a 69-67 advantage.
Hochstetler rattled in a triple to give the Lady Jackets the lead with 1:01 on the clock. Cedarville led 70-69 and added one more point with 42 seconds left to lead 71-69.
Findlay was fouled on a 3-point attempt with three seconds left. The Oilers made two of their three chances which tied the game at 71.
“When you have the game almost won and you foul on the 3-point line, you have a tough time winning.”
With one second left, Cedarville called a timeout with the ball. Out of the timeout, Hochstetler’s shot barely rattled out to end regulation. The two teams headed into overtime tied at 71.
With 3:21 left in the overtime period, Bennett splashed a triple from deep. The shot gave the Lady Jackets a 76-75 lead and gave Bennett 32 points.
Cedarville gripped a 78-76 lead with under 30 seconds left, but turned the ball over on a potential game-clinching possession. Findlay got the ball back with 23 seconds left and tied it with 15 seconds left.
The Lady Jackets were unable to make a shot to win the game, sending the contest to a second overtime period with the score tied at 78.
The Oilers scored first in the second overtime period, and Cedarville had three shots on the next possession but was unable to score. Findlay scored again with 3:32 left to go up 82-78.
Findlay continued to light it up and leaped to an 86-78 lead. Cedarville got the ball back and called a timeout with 1:49 remaining.
The Oilers kept their lead to close out the matchup.
Cedarville will get to enjoy a two-week break before traveling to Walsh on Dec. 30. Walsh is 6-5 and lost to Findlay 73-60 on Dec. 7.
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.