By Tim Miller
Senior guard Demond Parker implored his team to stay positive after a 93-60 loss to Dayton on Saturday. He told his team in the locker room that they won’t face a better team than they faced over the past week, dropping exhibition games to Valparaiso, Ohio State, and now Dayton.
“Our bodies are hurting,” Parker said. “After banging against Big 10 and Atlantic 10 teams, we know it was great preparation, but we won’t face another team like that for the rest of the year.”
The historic preseason came to an end after the Yellow Jackets lost to the Flyers, a team expected to advance in the NCAA Tournament come March. Now, Cedarville sets its sights on the regular season.
Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer led the Yellow Jackets with 13 points and fished out six assists. Junior forward Conner TenHove scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting.
“It’s been a brutal week,” head coach Pat Estepp said. “I’m proud of them, I thought we played pretty tough for an extended period of time.”
Estepp emphasized the importance of transition defense, and after a sluggish start and a alley oop in transition by Dayton, Estepp called a timeout. With 17:50 left, Dayton led 9-2.
Cedarville responded with a 7-2 run out of the timeout to keep the Flyers from running away early. With 14:47 on the clock, Dayton led 11-9.
Unlike in the first 20 minutes of the Ohio State exhibition where just three Yellow Jackets scored in the entire first half, five different Cedarville players scored the first five field goals against Dayton.
Dayton took its first double-digit lead thanks to a 3-pointer from the right wing, as the Flyers continued to inch away from Cedarville. The Yellow Jackets took another timeout with 8:31 on the clock trailing 26-15.
Two straight triples by Green brought Cedarville within eight with 6:48 remaining. To that point, the two teams had nearly identical shooting percentages, but Cedarville had a -5 turnover margin.
Senior guard Demond Parker hit a quick triple to get Cedarville within 10 again, but Dayton answered with a 3-pointer on their own end with a minute left. Dayton continued to apply pressure defensively and used its size to score on the offensive end, and Cedarville trailed 46-33 at the half.
Green led the Yellow Jackets with eight points in the first half. As a team, Cedarville shot 48% from the field and made half of their 3-point attempts in the first.
Dayton’s extreme advantage in size only led to three more rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Dayton doubled Cedarville’s 12 points in the paint in the half.
Dayton ramped up the pressure even more to open the second, throwing Cedarville’s offense into disarray. To add to the meltdown, the Flyers made 5-8 shots in the first four minutes to go up 59-42.
With 12:17 left, Dayton moved the spread to 20 after an easy dump in to the post and lay-in. At the under-12 media timeout, the Flyers led 67-45.
The Yellow Jackets continued to battle, but Dayton’s Division I size, talent, and athleticism would be plenty to keep Cedarville out of it. The Yellow Jackets began filtering in reserves as the final minutes came and went.
Cedarville shot just 32 percent from the field in the second half and 20 percent from the 3-point line. Cedarville finished the game with 11 less rebounds and 11 more turnovers than the Flyers.
The Yellow Jackets start their season on Friday against Quincy in the G-MAC/GLVC Crossover. They’ll finish the weekend on Saturday against Truman State.
Cedarville lose to Quincy last season but defeated Truman State in an identical start to the season in 2018.
“We gotta get better,” Estepp said. “You look at what you got exposed in and fix them so they’re not problems when you go into Division II games. They won’t be as big, but they can be every bit as fast.”
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.