by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Yellow Jackets closed the Don Callan Classic with a loss to the No. 22 Indianapolis Greyhounds on Saturday night, falling 94-85. The Yellow Jackets were 0-2 in their hosted invitational due to a loss to regional contender Grand Valley State last night.
Despite a strong showing offensively, it wasn’t enough. Cedarville (2-3) has allowed 75 points or more in each game but one this season.
“We battled against one of the top two teams in the region,” head coach Pat Estepp said. “Offensively, Indy has to be one of the most potent teams in our region, and we’ve got a really good region.”
Cedarville allowed Indy to shoot 58.7% from the field and 46.7% from behind the arc, giving up 14 triples in the loss.
Junior forward Conner TenHove scored a season-high 27 points on 10-15 shooting in the loss. He also added five assists and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer added 23 points and also had five assists and three rebounds. Sophomore forward Quinton Green contributed 18 points and eight rebounds.
“We had 19 assists and 11 turnovers,” Estepp said. “I thought we moved the ball better and got each other shots. These are the games that if they don’t break them, it’ll make them better down the road.”
The Yellow Jackets’ defensive woes carried over from the night prior, as Indy scored on six of its first seven possessions to take an early 17-9 lead less than five minutes into the contest. The only miss by the Greyhounds was on a try to drive the ball through the rim on a roaring wide-open dunk attempt. Cedarville called a timeout with 15:37 left, as Estepp seemed to sense a poor defensive night rearing its head again.
Cedarville responded with a dunk by Green and a triple by TenHove to bring the Yellow Jackets within three right out of the timeout.
The Yellow Jackets continued to keep pace with the Greyhounds, cutting the lead to 21-19 with 11:26 on the clock. Maughmer, Green and TenHove were the only Yellow Jackets to score to that point as they have seven, seven and five points respectively.
Indy began to make headway again thanks to a small 6-1 run capped off by a strong dunk on the low block. With 9:40 remaining, Indy led 27-20.
Cedarville went on a 10-2 run in response to get back in the game. TenHove splashed a 3-pointer to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the night. With 7:12 left, Cedarville led 30-29 and Indy called a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Greyhounds made two shots in a row from deep to take the lead and grab some distance. However, freshman guard Dan McKeeman’s second triple of the game, this one coming from way downtown, brought Cedarville within two with just under six minutes left.
The teams traded buckets to close the half, as whenever Cedarville would cut the lead to a bucket or less, the Greyhounds would respond with a basket to push the gap to more than a possession. A small run seemed like it would give Indy a comfortable lead heading into the half, but the Yellow Jackets charged back to score the final seven points of the half, cutting the lead to 46-45 after 20 minutes.
TenHove had 12 points on 4-6 shooting for the Yellow Jackets and Maughmer had 12 points, making both of his attempts from behind the arc. Green added seven points and four rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets were outrebounded by five in the half and were outscored in the paint 22-10. While Indy had a better shooting percentage from the field than Cedarville (57.6% compared to 51.7%), the Yellow Jackets were more dangerous from deep, making eight of their 16 attempts.
During the half, the Yellow Jackets were deducted two free throws they made late in the first half, as TenHove made a pair of one-and-one free throws after being fouled when it was Indy’s sixth team foul. The halftime score was changed to 46-43 and TenHove lost those points.
Neither team created separation to open the half, but Indy was the first to grow a lead. With 14:41 on the clock, Indy used a fastbreak to create a lay-up, giving the Greyhounds a 57-49 advantage.
Cedarville was able to battle back to make the score 61-57 with 12:25 on the clock after Green made a lay-up and got fouled. He’d convert the free throw attempt, and made a pair with 10:48 left to make the score 66-62 as the Yellow Jackets continued to scrap with the No. 22 team in the nation.
With 10:11 left, TenHove rattled in a trifecta to cut the lead to three at 68-65. The Yellow Jackets needed a stop on the defensive end as their high scoring rate continued to be matched by Indy. Estepp pleaded for his team to step up on defense, but on the next possession they allowed a bucket.
Maughmer tied the game with a 3-pointer with 8:59 left, but continued slow rotations on the defensive side allowed Indy to go back up 77-73. With 7:44 left, Indy surprisingly called a full timeout.
Indy scored seven straight points to go up 88-79, and Cedarville called a timeout with 3:41 after a Greyhounds triple. The Yellow Jackets returned to the huddle looking defeated, as it was clear the entire gym sensed that it was now or never for Cedarville.
Indy still couldn’t push its lead past nine late, but the Greyhounds were able to hold their delicate lead from there.
Cedarville gets short rest before traveling to Michigan to take on Northwood on Tuesday. The Timberwolves are just a game over .500 on the season at 3-2, but have played a grueling schedule that includes a win over Findlay and losses to Bellarmine and Indy (72-66).
“I was proud of our guys for fighting, I think we played hard,” Estepp said. “They didn’t back down. We made a run, but ultimately we need to figure out how to defend the three better.”
Tim Miller is a senior marketing major, editor-in-chief and sports editor for 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.