by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (22-5, 17-4 G-MAC) are one win away from capturing homecourt advantage for the 2018 G-MAC Tournament after winning over the Davis & Elkins Senators on Thursday night, 65-60.
The Lady Jackets came into the night tied in first place in the conference with Ursuline, but the Arrows lost to Malone, giving Cedarville a one-game lead with one game left. Cedarville needs to win on Saturday to clinch an outright G-MAC regular season title. Conference implications will get hectic if Cedarville loses, with three teams within one game of first place.
Senior forward Breanne Watterworth reached her career high in points with 30 in the win. Watterworth also corralled 11 rebounds to reach her fifth double-double of the season. The standout senior was a force on the defensive end with three steals and two rejections.
“Our gameplan was to pound it inside,” Watterworth said. “I knew that coming into the game so I was ready to go at them.”
Junior guard Baylee Bennett added 12 points and three assists. Freshman guard Ashlyn Huffman fired in eight points and came away with four rebounds.
Davis & Elkins made a triple to open the game, but Cedarville answered with the next six points to take a 6-3 lead with 6:18 remaining. The teams sprinted up the floor for the next couple minutes, and the Senators found themselves up 10-8 with 3:19 left after another 3-pointer.
Bennett put the Lady Jackets back up with 2:35 left on the clock after leaving her defender out to dry thanks to a quick crossover. Freshman guard Stevie Johnting scored on the next possession to put Cedarville up 13-10 with 1:51 left.
Cedarville led 13-12 after one frame. Watterworth led the team in scoring with five points and pulled down three rebounds. Bennett added four points on 2-4 shooting. The Lady Jackets were strong on the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds and nine in total.
Cedarville scored seven of the first nine points in the second quarter to jump to a 20-14 lead with 6:54 left. Davis & Elkins called a timeout as the Lady Jackets’ offense was rolling.
Out of the timeout, Cedarville scored on each of its first two possessions. The Lady Jackets took their first 10-point lead at 24-14 with 6:01 left.
Davis & Elkins closed the gap to one possession with 3:05 remaining, but still trailed 26-24. In the final three minutes, the Lady Jackets yet again fought off the Senators and took a 31-26 margin into the locker room.
Both Bennett and Watterworth contributed six points in the quarter, and each shot 50 percent from the field during the first half. Watterworth scored 11 points in the first half in total, while Bennett was right behind with 10. The Lady Jackets shot 45 percent from the field while the Senators made 39 percent of their attempts.
Cedarville couldn’t push the Senators out of the game to start the third and saw two point margins multiple times to start the frame. With 4:46 remaining, Cedarville led 37-34 after one Davis & Elkins free throw. The Lady Jackets’ offense stalled, scoring just three points for nearly four minutes.
The Lady Jackets got back on track in the final three minutes, scoring 12 points over that span to own a 49-42 lead after three quarters. Watterworth continued to tear it up, doubling her point total in the quarter to push her tally to 22 points. Watterworth scored more than half of the Lady Jackets’ points in the period as well.
Cedarville kept control of the game in the first four minutes of the final period, but still could not finish off the Senators. With 5:19 left, Cedarville led 52-46 after senior forward Taylor Buckley netted one of two free throws.
Cedarville began to get a little space from the Senators, and Watterworth put her defender on skates en route to a wide-open layup with 2:28 on the clock to put the Lady Jackets up 59-50.
Davis & Elkins proved pesky yet again and used free throws to get back into the game. With 15 seconds left, Cedarville led 63-60 and called a timeout with possession of the ball. Bennett made two free throws with six seconds left to put the nail in the coffin.
“We needed to win it,” Watterworth said. “It was for sure a grind. It wasn’t our best game defensively but we made plays toward the end and finished strong.”
The Lady Jackets look to clinch the G-MAC regular season championship on Saturday against Alderson Broaddus (7-18, 4-17 G-MAC). Cedarville slipped by the Battlers by just four points in the first matchup on Jan. 11.
“I am extremely pleased to come out with a win,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “If you would ask any of our players or staff, they would say that wasn’t a very fun game at all. D & E gave us all we could handle.”
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.