by Tim Miller
A putrid first quarter led the Cedarville Lady Jackets to an insurmountable deficit on Thursday night, as Cedarville lost to Findlay 73-64. The loss is a huge blow, dropping Cedarville (16-4, 12-2 G-MAC) out of first place in the G-MAC and snapping its six-game winning streak.
Senior guard Baylee Bennett was a huge part of the Lady Jackets’ comeback, scoring 17 points on 5-11 shooting from deep. Senior guard Regina Hochstetler scored 16 points on 4-10 shooting from behind the arc. Freshman forward Alli Roh had seven points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore guard Ashlyn Huffman dropped 13 points and four assists.
Freshman guard Emily Chapman and freshman forward Lexi Moore each were inactive for Cedarville due to injury.
The Lady Jackets got off to an ugly start and allowed eight points in the first two minutes. On the offensive end, Findlay’s pressure forced Cedarville into sloppy play as turnovers became a factor early.
Findlay continued to explode on the offensive end while suffocating the Lady Jackets on defense for the entirety of the quarter. With 2:40 on the clock, head coach Kari Hoffman called a timeout down 21-4 after the Oilers rattled in another triple.
The stunned Lady Jackets couldn’t keep track of Findlay defensively and left holes throughout the quarter. Offensively, any open look Cedarville got was rare, and even then the Lady Jackets couldn’t put the ball in the bucket.
After 10 minutes, Cedarville trailed 27-9. Field goal percentage was the only stat to compare after the quarter, as Findlay shot an unruly 83 percent (10-12) versus Cedarville’s 21 percent (3-14). The Lady Jackets were 1-8 from deep, while Findlay doubled Cedarville’s made 3-point attempts in just three shots.
Cedarville finally found success after opening the second quarter on a 7-1 run. However, after a possession that included two offensive rebounds yet zero points for the Lady Jackets, Findlay swished a trifecta on the other end to go up 31-16 with 5:49 remaining.
Hochstetler made a triple off an offensive rebound to bring Cedarville within nine, 31-22, with four minutes left. With 2:03 left, Bennett splashed a triple to miraculously put the Lady Jackets right back in the game at 31-25.
The Lady Jackets went into the locker room with a huge spurt of momentum and trailed just 39-31. Bennett scored nine points in the second quarter alone to bring her first half total to 11. Cedarville was plus-five on the boards in the second quarter and won the first half rebounding battle 17-15. Cedarville’s biggest improvement was its performance behind the arc, splashing six of its 11 attempts.
The third quarter featured a level trend, as the difference between the two teams was never less than seven and never more than 11. Junior forward Cameron Peek netted a deep two-point jumper and then made a free throw to close the third, keeping the Lady Jackets in the game heading into the final period.
After three quarters, Cedarville was behind 55-46. Cedarville out-rebounded Findlay yet again, but Findlay continued to shoot the lights out, ending the third with a 57 percent field goal percentage. The Lady Jackets needed to put more pressure on Oiler shooters in order to take the game away from Findlay.
Cedarville came within six for the first time of the second half thanks to a triple by Bennett with 5:39 on the clock. Bennett tried another on the next possession from nearly the exact same spot and drilled the shot yet again. Findlay led 61-58 with 4:53 remaining, and Cedarville seemed to have a real shot to complete an epic comeback.
Findlay clearly wanted to melt the clock away, as with the Lady Jackets’ hot shooting came long, drawn out possessions by the Oilers. They took nearly an entire minute away from Cedarville after earning an offensive rebound and drilled a triple to put Findlay up 66-60 with 1:48 left.
The shot proved to be the dagger, as the Lady Jackets were unable to recuperate from there.
Cedarville will travel to Hillsdale on Saturday for a game against the sub-.500 Chargers. Cedarville won the first matchup 76-70. A week from today, the Lady Jackets will have a chance to take first place back as they’ll face the now first-place Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers (16-3, 12-1 G-MAC).