by Tim Miller
The highest anticipated exhibition game in Cedarville history was fun for a bit, but the NCAA Division I No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes flexed their muscles over the unranked Division II Yellow Jackets, winning 95-52. While the Yellow Jackets showed promise for the first 15 minutes or so, Ohio State was able to run away with the game.
Redshirt sophomore forward Quinton Green led the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 16 points on 5-8 shooting. He also pulled down four rebounds. Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer added in 11 points on 5-9 shooting. Sophomore forward Isaiah Speelman was the only other Yellow Jacket to make a noticeable dent in the statsheet, scoring nine points.
Maughmer said the chance to play against the team he rooted for as a kid was something he’d never forget. That story is likely the same for many other Yellow Jackets after tonight.
“It was a surreal feeling,” Maughmer said. “I’m a Buckeye fan, I’m not going to lie. But tonight I wasn’t. After the game, I can say I am again. But to play out there with my brothers, I was just like, ‘wow’.”
Sophomore forward Kollin Van Horn started the game with an exclamation point, packing a Buckeye shot to the hardwood. This was the only positive for the Yellow Jackets to open the game, as they suffered three turnovers and missed their only field goal attempt not even three minutes into the game. With 17:41 left, head coach Pat Estepp called his first timeout down 6-0.
“We were tight when we started,” Estepp said. “We were fumbling the ball around and couldn’t catch anything. I thought we were tentative, which is what you expect in this atmosphere.”
The parade of high flyers continued, as Maughmer rose up to pick a shot out of the air, and then flew to spike a shot through the rim to give Cedarville its first score of the game.
Green responded with two straight makes from deep to bring Cedarville closer. With 15:19 left, Ohio State led 10-8.
Estepp said after Maughmer’s dunk and Green’s made shots, the team looked more comfortable.
The Yellow Jackets were able to keep pace with Ohio State even with turnover struggles. Green hit another mid-range jumper and Maughmer finessed to the hoop to make the score 14-12 with 13:00 on the clock.
Maughmer netted a smooth stepback 3-pointer with 9:45 remaining to tie the game at 20. On the Buckeyes’ next possession, they lost the ball on a jump ball, giving Cedarville the chance to take its first lead.
With 8:24 on the clock, Speelman netted a triple to give Cedarville a 23-22 lead. The Cedarville fan section erupted as the Yellow Jackets were giving a Division I nationally ranked team a battle.
Ohio State began to create some space as the first half waned and took a 33-25 margin with 5:06 left after Cedarville’s eighth team foul led to a pair of free throws.
Another triple by Ohio State gave them their first double-digit lead of the game, as the Buckeyes led 38-25 with under four minutes left. Estepp has said before that teams either win games by closing a half on a run or opening a half on a run, and in order for Cedarville to have any chance, they’d need to burst out of the second half with a commanding run.
A 14-0 run by Ohio State coupled by a six-minute scoreless streak by the Yellow Jackets allowed Ohio State to dominate to close the half.
At halftime, the Buckeyes led 41-27. Just three different Yellow Jackets scored in the first 20 minutes. Maughmer had 11 points, Green had 10, and Speelman had six. Overall, the Yellow Jackets actually shot a better percentage from the field, from behind the arc, and from the free-throw line in the first half. Ohio State’s nine offensive rebounds and Cedarville’s 12 turnovers were the Yellow Jackets’ bugaboo, and the halftime margin was identical to the amount of points Ohio State scored off turnovers in the first.
During the break, Estepp emphasized to his players to crash the defensive boards, take a bunch of 3-pointers and not be afraid to shoot, and to give unwavering in effort in the first five minutes of the second.
Through the first five minutes of the second, Ohio State still led 54-41, though Cedarville went on a 8-0 run during the time frame. At the first media timeout, Estepp was able to encourage his team at least somewhat after going on a hot scoring stretch.
With 13:16 left in the half, Maughmer was subbed out of the game was an apparent calf injury. Maughmer would sub back in the game two minutes later.
With 10:05 remaining, Ohio State extended its lead to 67-44 after another shot rained in from behind the arc. The Buckeyes seemed to have the game well within their grasp at that point, and Ohio State easily scored on the next two possessions to go up 71-44. Cedarville called a timeout with 9:02 on the clock.
Senior guard Demond Parker fell awkwardly, twisting his left leg underneath itself. Parker would be subbed out of the game and did not return.
Arguably the loudest cheering from the Yellow Jacket faithful came when the Towel Gang subbed in with 2:00 left. Andrew Stein, Adam Standley, and Andrew Spurr all achieved dreams they probably never thought were possible upon enrolling at Cedarville University, as they rose from JV members to Division II athletes playing against a Division I powerhouse.
The Buckeyes never let Cedarville look comfortable in the final handful of minutes to close the game. Ohio State would go on to win easily.
“I was proud of our guys, they battled,” Estepp said. “Just the opportunity for our university, it made you proud to be a part of Cedarville.”
Cedarville has one exhibition remaining before kicking off the season on November 9. On Saturday, Cedarville will take a short drive to Dayton to take on the University of Dayton to cap off their third preseason match against a Division I team.
Tim Miller is a senior marketing major and Editor-In-Chief and Sports Editor of Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about health insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.