by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (2-1) won their first home game of the season on Thursday night, defeating the Wilberforce Bulldogs 62-52 in a non-conference bout.
Sophomore guard Ashlyn Huffman stepped up for the Lady Jackets with a team-high 17 points and six assists. She also wrangled five rebounds. While Huffman experienced struggles during preparation for the game, she said her demeanor tonight was what allowed her to step up for Cedarville.
“Yesterday, I did not have a great practice,” Huffman said. “Coach just told me at the end of it that we go as I go. I knew my mindset would have to be on point tonight.”
Senior guard Regina Hochstetler scored 13 points and was 3-6 from behind the arc. As a team, the Lady Jackets won the turnover war by 12 and scored 17 points off those turnovers.
The two teams were competitive to start the game, but Cedarville took the first run in the contest. Huffman converted a three-point play after getting fouled to put the Lady Jackets up 10-6 with 6:16 left in the first. However, Wilberforce charged back to take an 11-10 lead with 5:11 remaining in the first.
The teams traded buckets and blows to close the quarter and Cedarville led 16-14 after one frame. Huffman led the Lady Jackets with seven points and was 3-3 from the field. Senior forward Abby Wolford contributed four points and Hochstetler made a triple in the quarter.
The Lady Jackets forced six turnovers as a team in the first but were outrebounded by three.
Wilberforce scored the first six points of the second to grab a 20-16 lead. After calling a timeout, Cedarville got a bucket via postwork by junior forward Cameron Peek that resulted in two points. With 6:44 on the clock, Wilberforce led 20-18.
After falling behind by seven, the Lady Jackets jumped back into the game to tie it with 53 seconds left. A 12-3 run allowed Cedarville to close the half on a high note and they led 30-28 after 20 minutes.
Huffman again led the Lady Jackets, scoring five points and adding two assists in the half. Cedarville shot 39 percent from the field and just 15 percent from deep in the first half. They were -8 on the boards while winning the turnover battle at +6.
“We were not shooting well, we were not rebounding well,” head coach Kari Hoffman said. “That continued to be a struggle throughout the game. If we do that continually, every game is gonna be like this.”
Cedarville’s 3-point shooting improved to start the third and after making their third of the quarter, Cedarville took a 39-35 lead. Cedarville pushed its lead to seven with 3:55 left after freshman Emily Chapman made her free throw after making a layup on which she was fouled.
The Lady Jackets took momentum into the final period after sophomore guard Stevie Johnting splashed a triple with 25 seconds remaining. After three quarters, Cedarville led 45-38.
Senior guard Baylee Bennett revived her scoring with six points in the quarter to lead the Lady Jackets. Cedarville shot 40 percent from behind the arc in the third, its best shooting performance of any quarter.
Cedarville scored six of the first eight points of the fourth and reached an 11-point lead after Huffman made a layup to go up 51-40. The Lady Jackets seemed to have all they needed to pull out the win.
While Wilberforce stuck around, the Bulldogs were unable to cut the game even to within two possessions. The Lady Jackets won the slugfest comfortably in their first game at Callan this season.
“That was a dog fight,” Hoffman said. “I feel like Wilberforce played extremely hard and they made it a full 94-foot game. They controlled a good amount of this game.”
Cedarville is off until Tuesday when they continue their six-game homestand in a matchup with Ohio Christian. Cedarville owned OCU last season in their only meeting, winning 80-47.
Tim Miller is a junior marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about supplemental insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.