by Tim Miller
Senior guard Kaitlyn Holm sent the Callan Athletic Center into a frenzy with a game-winning shot to lead the Cedarville Lady Jackets (13-3, 8-2 G-MAC) past the Hillsdale Chargers on Monday night, 80-75. Four Lady Jackets reached double digits in scoring and four players grabbed six or more rebounds.
“We’re all just really proud of everybody,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “It was just a complete team win.”
Holm had 19 points on 7-12 shooting and hit the most clutch shot of the night, managing to make a tough layup with 23 seconds left.
Junior guard Baylee Bennett continued her hot stretch with 17 points on 5-7 shooting from behind the arc. Bennett also grabbed eight rebounds and six assists. Freshman guard Ashlyn Huffman totaled 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Junior guard Regina Hochstetler chipped in 12 points and six rebounds.
The Lady Jackets uncharacteristically struggled to get the cover of the basket to start the game, as they failed to score until Hochstetler made a jumper to put Cedarville on the board. Huffman followed with a triple from the corner for the Lady Jackets’ next two scores. At the media timeout, Hillsdale led Cedarville 12-8 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Hillsdale remained in control in the first frame and grabbed an eight-point lead with 1:35 remaining to go up 20-12. Cedarville failed to take any leads in the quarter and shot 40 percent from the field while Hillsdale hit 56 percent of its shots.
The Chargers continued to shoot at a high rate to start the second and even when they missed, offensive rebounds gave Hillsdale multiple extra shots. Cedarville’s offense improved, but still trailed 29-23 halfway through the second.
Cedarville continued to battle and tied the game with 2:24 left after a layup by freshman guard Stevie Johnting. Hillsdale answered back to take a 33-31 lead, yet senior forward Breanne Watterworth dropped in a layup to allow the Lady Jackets to tie the game again with 1:30 on the clock.
Hillsdale owned a 35-33 margin at halftime. No Lady Jackets reached double digits in scoring, and Cedarville made just 39 percent of its attempts from the field in the half.
Holm led the Lady Jackets in scoring with eight points and also pulled down eight rebounds. Bennett finished the first 20 minutes with six points, five rebounds and two assists. Even though Cedarville trailed, they outrebounded Hillsdale by six, while the Chargers had nine points off turnovers.
Holm made two left-handed layups off fastbreaks early in the third to give Cedarville a 41-37 lead. With 6:57 left, Hillsdale called a timeout to stop the fast Lady Jacket start.
Cedarville closed the quarter by scoring nine of the game’s 12 points in the final two minutes. The Lady Jackets led 57-48 after three frames and shot 67 percent from the field to finally get settled in the game. Cedarville made all seven of its attempts from the charity stripe in the third.
Bennett splashed a triple to open the fourth quarter to put Cedarville up 60-48, its first double digit lead of the night.
Hillsdale charged back to score nine straight points and with 7:35 left, Cedarville led just 60-57. The Lady Jackets called a timeout to shut down the Charger comeback.
With 6:06 left, Huffman found herself wide open and swished an easy trifecta to give Cedarville a two-possession lead, 65-61.
Hillsdale tied the game with 4:05 left after making a shot from the short corner. Huffman answered back quickly with another triple to put Cedarville back up 68-65.
The teams continued to trade scores for the next three minutes, and Hillsdale pulled with two with 1:17 remaining. The Chargers called a timeout after the score and Cedarville led 73-71.
With 28 seconds left, Hillsdale made a 3-pointer to take a 74-73 lead. Cedarville called a timeout to call a potential game-winning play for itself.
With 23 seconds left, Holm powered her her way down the baseline and hit a strong layup and gave the Lady Jackets a 75-74 lead. Cedarville maintained its lead in the final seconds to win.
Both Holm and Hoffman mentioned the strong defensive performance in the final minutes that sent the Lady Jackets over the hump.
“We stepped up on the defensive end today and I was really proud of them for that,” Hoffman said. “We got some key rebounds and players made plays down the stretch.”
The Lady Jackets will jostle for positioning in the G-MAC on Saturday in a game against Ursuline (12-5, 9-2 G-MAC) at 2 p.m. The Arrows will host the Lady Jackets in the first of two scheduled contests for the season. The game will go a long way in the fight to host the G-MAC Tournament in March, as Ursuline and Cedarville are second and third in the conference standings, respectively.
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.