by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Yellow Jackets (6-5, 1-3 G-MAC) lost a tight affair to the Findlay Oilers on Saturday evening in overtime, 79-78. The men’s team lost in overtime right after the women’s team lost in double overtime to Findlay.
Head coach Pat Estepp said that even though the loss is tough to swallow, he was very encouraged by the team’s performance against one of the top teams in the region.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Estepp said. “That’s a gut-wrenching loss to the best team in our conference, but I’m really proud of the way we fought and bounced back after not performing well at Hillsdale.”
Senior guard Patrick Bain scorched the net with 33 points on 9-15 shooting. Junior guard Grant Zawadzki piled in 17 points and eight rebounds. Junior forward Robert Okoro chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds.
Sophomore guard Demond Parker (flu) missed the game. Parker is averaging eight points per game this season and is the team’s best 3-point shooter, hitting 45 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
Estepp said not having Parker made the bench production weaker and that missing him left a hole.
“It hurts because he’s a very good 3-point shooter,” Estepp said. “When he’s healthy, he really helps us.”
The Yellow Jackets went on an early 7-2 run to jump to a 9-4 lead with 15:19 left. Zawadzki fired in five points in the first five minutes and also had one assist.
Findlay responded with a 15-3 run to take a 19-10 lead with 11:00 left. The dry spell lasted for three minutes for the Yellow Jackets, as they failed to until Bain made a free throw with 10:37 remaining. Bain’s free throws cut Findlay’s advantage to 19-12.
The Yellow Jackets trailed by four after Bain sank a triple assisted by Zawadzki. With 9:19 left, Cedarville looked to have a prime opportunity to take a momentum swing.
Findlay took a nine-point lead, but the Yellow Jackets responded with two buckets to bring the game to a 29-25 margin with 3:40 left. Zawadzki reached double figures in scoring during this span.
The run continued, as Cedarville cut the Oiler lead to one point with 2:40 on the clock. Freshman guard Riley Matticks scored his first points of the game via a layup which made the score 30-29.
Bain tied the game at 35 using a spin move en route to a layup with 36 seconds left. The score stood still until halftime, as each team went into the locker room with 35 points.
Zawadzki had ten points and three rebounds and Okoro added nine points and six rebounds. Bain also scored nine points and made four free throws in the half.
Cedarville scored the first four points of the second half and took a 39-35 lead with 18:53 on the clock.
Findlay took a 44-43 lead with 14:35 left and pushed its lead to six after making a floater with 10:42 left. At that mark, the Oilers held a 53-47 margin.
Both teams traded baskets for the next six minutes, as the game was teetered back and forth from being separated by one and two possessions. With 4:14 remaining, Findlay made a three which pushed the game to a three-possession game. Bain answered with a triple to make the score 64-60 with 3:28 on the clock.
With 1:08 renaming, Findlay made a layup and was fouled on the shot. After making the free throw, the Oilers led 71-65.
Junior guard Kwenton Scott made one of his two free throw attempts on the other end to cut the lead to five. The Yellow Jackets then stole the ball on the inbound and Bain splashed a three from the left wing to make the score 71-69 with 40 seconds left.
Zawadzki made a triple with 15 seconds left to put the Yellow Jackets within one, 73-72. Findlay made one of its two free throw attempts on the other end, giving Cedarville the ball with 10 seconds left.
Bain was fouled while driving with five seconds left, sending him to the charity stripe with a one-and-one. Bain made both of his attempts, tying the game at 74. Cedarville kept Findlay from scoring and sent the game into overtime.
The game was never separated by more than three points in overtime and after nearly two minutes of no scoring, Findlay made one of two free throws. With seven seconds left, the Oilers led 79-78.
Cedarville rebounded the second free throw attempt but lost control of the ball and was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded.
Estepp said that when Cedarville gets its second crack at Findlay on Feb. 13, his guys will be prepared to lock into another fight. With seven new players on the roster, Estepp said he hopes the team will be playing in top from.
“I think our guys are gonna know we can play with them,” Estepp said. “We’re gonna have to be playing better at that time. I expect us to be significantly better in January and February.”
The Yellow Jackets get two weeks off before traveling to Walsh on Dec. 30. Walsh is 6-3 and was defeated by Findlay 96-87 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.