by Joshua Stevens
Cedarville picked up its second straight G-MAC win on Saturday with an 85-74 victory over Ohio Valley.
Coach Pat Estepp again adjusted the starting lineup, starting guards Demond Parker and Riley Matticks along with usual starters Patrick Bain, Grant Zawadzki and Conner TenHove.
“This has been probably the most I’ve ever changed my starting lineup.” Estepp said. “Outside of Patrick and Grant, there hasn’t been a lot of consistency, so that’s probably been the biggest change.”
Estepp was pleased with his starters tonight, as the Jackets (10-9, 5-7 GMAC) got off to a hot start against the Fighting Scots (2-16, 1-11 GMAC). TenHove led the way in the first half with 15 points, as he took advantage of his size in the post. The Jackets also started strong on defense, forcing 10 turnovers in the first half.
The lead in the first half grew to as many as nine, but the Fighting Scots continued to fight back. After the Scots cut the lead to two with six minutes left, the Jackets again went on a run. Colton Linkous hit a three and Gabriel Portillo had a strong put-back to give the Jackets a 40-32 lead toward the end of the half. Zawadzki then hit a three and was fouled at the buzzer. He converted the free throw and the Jackets went to the half with their largest lead of the half, 44-32.
“We got ourselves out to a good start,” Estepp said. “We defended decently in the first half, and Conner was really good.”
The Jackets started the second half sluggish on defense, and the Scots were again able to battle back. They cut their deficit to two at the 12-minute mark. TenHove was a non-factor in the second half because of foul trouble.
The Jackets quickly woke up, however. A no-look pass by guard Evan Kraatz and a slam dunk by Bain got the team, and the crowd, going again. They built their lead back up to as many as 14, and the Scots were unable to fight back.
Bain scored 25 and TenHove had 17. Zawadzki and Linkous also had double digits as the Jackets continue to fight for a spot in the G-MAC Tournament.
“We have to fight. Every game is a conference game now,” Bain said. “We’re fighting to get in to the tournament, so we have to have our foot on the gas.”
The Jackets have three G-MAC games in the next week, facing Malone at home on Tuesday before traveling to Kentucky Wesleyan on Thursday and Trevecca on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of games left,” Estepp said. “We just need to keep getting better and make sure we’re improving every night.”
Joshua Stevens is a sophomore journalism major and sports writer for Cedars. He enjoys rooting for the Tennessee Titans and listening to old-school music.