by Tim Miller
A destructive opening to the second half allowed Cedarville to blow by Alderson Broaddus on Thursday night, giving the Yellow Jackets a 72-56 win. Thursday night’s G-MAC games pitted six teams within two games in the standings against each other, and the Yellow Jackets were beneficiaries of movement within the conference.
Cedarville (9-8, 6-3 G-MAC) is now locked in a four-way tie for third in the conference and ends its two-game skid with the dub.
Senior guard Grant Zawadzki led the Yellow Jackets with 19 points (6-6 FT) and eight assists. Senior forward Robert Okoro was the only other Yellow Jacket in double figures with 14 points on 7-8 shooting.
Cedarville’s bench set the tone for the Yellow Jackets, scoring 38 points.
“Our bench won us that game tonight and I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” head coach Pat Estepp said. “We changed the lineup for the second half because those guys had earned it and they were playing better. It was just their night.”
Alderson Broaddus scored the first five points of the game, but Cedarville matched with five unanswered in the first three minutes.
The Yellow Jackets jumped ahead by scoring 10 straight points to go up 17-11 with 11:03 remaining. Okoro was a big help during the run that mostly reserves contributed to, recording two rejections and a layup.
Both teams played at a frantic pace for the next few minutes, and while neither team executed well, the Battlers led 24-19 at the under-eight media timeout. The break was much needed for the Yellow Jackets, as they looked to regroup with just under five minutes on the clock.
“A lot of the first half wasn’t very pretty,” Estepp said. “We struggled offensively and defensively at times. We weren’t rebounding but then we finally found our lineup.”
The Yellow Jackets’ adjustments spurred them to a 7-0 run to close the half. Junior guard Demond Parker swished a 3-pointer with 25 ticks left, which sent both teams into the locker room leveled at 26.
Cedarville shot poorly in the first 20 minutes, finishing at 33 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the arc. Both Okoro and Parker had six points in the first, and neither missed a shot. Zawadzki added five points.
The Yellow Jackets were ruthless to start the second half, grabbing offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers to take a dominating 32-26 lead with 16:54 remaining. After committing a foul, Alderson Broaddus called a timeout barely three minutes into the fresh half.
Another Battler foul put Cedarville in the bonus with 13:34 on the clock. Zawadzki hit both his free throws to extend Cedarville’s run and give the Yellow Jackets a 47-32 lead.
Cedarville forced a stop and slowed the game down with under seven minutes left. Zawadzki walked the ball up the floor, and the game seemed to be one shot away from heading into an irreversible direction. Freshman forward Kollin Van Horn made a layup on the possession to put the Yellow Jackets up 63-45, and with 6:17 on the clock the Battlers called a timeout as their last hope to get into the game.
After assisting on Van Horn’s shot, freshman forward Isaiah Speelman netted a corner triple to put Cedarville up by 21. Speelman’s next shot put the Yellow Jackets up by 23, and the Battlers’ bus may as well had been warmed up at that point.
Cedarville reserves slowly were added to the game as starters earned some rest to close out the contest.
The Yellow Jackets get a day of rest before playing host to Davis & Elkins at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday. The Senators are among the bottom dwellers of the G-MAC with a 1-6 record in the conference and a 4-10 overall mark.