By Tim Miller
The ailing Cedarville Lady Jackets (20-5, 15-4 G-MAC) took control of the G-MAC with their biggest win of the season on Thursday night, defeating Ursuline 82-54. With three games left, Cedarville moves to first place in the conference, owning the tiebreaker over Ursuline.
The win came on Cedarville’s annual Play4Kay game, a night that spreads awareness of breast cancer and commemorates cancer survivors.
“That was an unbelievable environment,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “To have it be our breast cancer awareness game and the whole crowd in pink, it was just a really cool start to the game.”
Senior forward Breanne Watterworth was a menace in the post, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“It was a great team win,” Watterworth said. “It was our gameplan to work hard on defense. It was a total team win and people were making shots and players were making plays.”
Freshman guard Stevie Johnting poured in 18 points on 5-10 shooting from deep. Senior guard Kaitlyn Holm turned in her second-straight double-double at home with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Holm also handed out seven assists. Junior guard Baylee Bennett shot 4-6 from behind the arc and scored 12 points.
The Lady Jackets owned possession for nearly the first two minutes of the game through two offensive rebounds, but were unable to get the lid off the basket. Cedarville got on the scoreboard with 7:42 left via a scooping layup by freshman guard Ashlyn Huffman.
The game moved quickly, with just one foul and one instance of the game being stopped due to the ball going out of bounds in the first six minutes. With 4:20 left, the teams got a chance to rest through a media timeout, and the Lady Jackets led 9-5.
Cedarville used strong halfcourt defense to hold Ursuline to two points in the final three and a half minutes of the first period. The Lady Jackets led 13-10 after the first. Watterworth led with six points and Huffman added five points and three rebounds.
The Lady Jackets scored the first four points of the second quarter and led 17-10 with 7:52 on the clock.
Johnting netted a wide-open triple from the corner to boost Cedarville’s confidence, putting the Lady Jackets up 22-14 with 5:06 remaining. Ursuline answered with a triple to close the gap to five points on its next score.
The Arrows closed the margin as the second waned and tied it at 26 with 1:56 left. Cedarville took the lead right back to take momentum into the half as Huffman nailed two free throws with four seconds left. At halftime, the Lady Jackets led 31-30.
Watterworth led the Lady Jackets with 10 points and four rebounds. Holm added four points and pulled down nine rebounds. The Lady Jackets shot below their normal rate, making 36 percent of their shots from the field.
“We didn’t shoot the ball great in the beginning,” Hoffman said. “But we continued to hammer down on defense. We held a couple of their players under their averages which was huge for us.”
The Lady Jackets burst the game open with six straight points in 90 seconds to start the third. Cedarville led 37-30 with 8:39 left thanks to Johnting’s pull-up trifecta.
“In the third quarter, we knew we’d have to come out and we did it,” Watterworth said. “Having that momentum propelled us to win the game.”
The Arrows brought themselves within two with 6:49 remaining, but Cedarville fought them off and led 45-38 a minute later.
Cedarville quickly managed five points after the media timeout to lead 50-41 with 2:38 on the clock. Watterworth used her post moves to push Cedarville to 50, and Ursuline called a timeout after the momentum swing.
Out of the timeout, Cedarville forced a stop and Johnting splashed another triple on the other end. Cedarville took its first double-digit lead of the game, owning a 53-41 advantage.
The Lady Jackets kept Ursuline off the scoreboard in the final five minutes of the quarter. Cedarville led 56-41 after three periods. Johnting exploded for 12 points in the quarter.
“Shots started to fall,” Hoffman said. “It was just really fun to see them knock down shots, share the ball, and it was just a complete enjoyment of a game. It was just a blast.”
Bennett hit a triple late in the shot clock with 8:53 left in the fourth to put Cedarville up 61-41. Ursuline called a timeout after the shot in what seemed to be a last-chance effort for the Arrows to stop the Lady Jackets.
The Lady Jackets never allowed Ursuline to get back in the game and led by as many as 30 points in the final period.
Cedarville will finish off its week with its fourth game in seven days against Lake Erie (11-13, 7-11 G-MAC) on Saturday. The Lady Jackets swiped a game from the Storm on Jan. 25, winning at Lake Erie, 71-60.
“We have three games left in our regular season,” Hoffman said. “It’s about finishing strong. I think if this same team can show up for these three games, we’ll be in good shape.”
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.