by Joshua Stevens
Cedarville University lost a heartbreaker in the final seconds of Saturday night’s game against Shawnee State to bring the 2018 Don Callan Classic to a close. Shawnee State made two free throws with one second left to stun the crowd at the Callan Athletic Center.
In a tale of two halves, the Jackets (2-2) found themselves down eight at halftime, but quickly battled back to build a lead against the Bears in the second half. Despite some foul trouble, the Jackets were up 75-69 with five minutes left, but were unable to pull out the victory.
“We didn’t put two halves together,” said Cedarville coach Pat Estepp. “We just couldn’t make enough plays.”
Freshman guard Branden Maughmer did his best to keep the Jackets in the game, finishing with 17 points in the first half, and 30 for the game.
“If it weren’t for Branden, we would’ve been down 15 for the half.” Estepp said.
Senior guard Grant Zawadzki added 12 points and eight assists, and junior Colton Linkous and sophomore Conner TenHove each contributed 10 points.
The Jackets had trouble defending on all fronts in the first half, allowing the Bears to shoot over 61% from the floor and nearly 56 percent from 3-point range. The Jackets were also outscored in the paint 22-6 in the half.
“We just had to take care of the ball and defend in the first half, and we would’ve been okay,” said Estepp.
Despite this, the Jackets came out more energized in the second half. They led by as many as six, but the Bears refused to let the lead grow beyond that. After two made free throws by Linkous gave the Jackets a three-point lead with a minute left, the crowd grew ecstatic.
Then Zawadzki fouled out on a questionable call, and the tide began to turn. The Bears took the momentum and ran with it, hitting the game-winning free throws, and not allowing the Jackets to get a final shot off.
“We’re a young team, and we’re gonna make some youthful mistakes,” said Estepp. “We didn’t switch on that screen there at the end.”
Despite the tough loss, Estepp is still confident the team can bounce back.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Estepp said. “They battled.”
The Jackets will look to back in the win column as they travel to Frankfort to take on Kentucky State on Tuesday.
“This is part of the growth,” Estepp said. “It’s part of the learning curve, and our guys picked that up, and we’re gonna be better as we get rolling.”
Joshua Stevens is a junior journalism major and sports writer for Cedars. He enjoys rooting for the Tennessee Titans and listening to old-school music.