by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets never trailed in their 70-68 win over Ursuline on Saturday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t close. Freshman forward Isabelle Bolender scored 20 points, including the game-winning shot with 0.3 seconds left to give the Lady Jackets the win.
While the Lady Jackets swelled their lead to 17 at one point, Ursuline remained resilient and caused the game to go down to the wire. Head coach Kari Hoffman said she was proud to come out with a win and that this one will make the team better for the future.
“I had to preach mental toughness and to go out and win it,” Hoffman said. “Luckily we had a chance at the very end to do that and Ise stepped up to make a great shot.”
On top of her career-high 20 points, Bolender lead the team in assists (five) and field goals (9-15). The Cedarville, Ohio native also added four rebounds and a steal in a complete performance.
Sophomore guard Allison Mader was the only other Lady Jacket to reach double figures, as she tallied 10 points on 3-3 shooting. Junior guard Ashlyn Huffman totaled eight rebounds and 10 assists, and senior guard Abby Wolford compiled four eight points, three rebounds, and two steals.
As a team, Cedarville shot below its season average (45%), making 39.4% of its shots. The Lady Jackets weren’t afraid to fire from deep, but didn’t convert many, making six of 25 shots (24%). Cedarville also committed 22 fouls.
The Lady Jackets uncharacteristically struggled to get going early, missing four of their first five shots. However, the Arrows started the game shooting 1-8, giving the Lady Jackets margin for error. With 5:21 left, Cedarville led 8-3, and prompt ball movement and balanced spacing allowed junior guard Stevie Johnting to make a 3-pointer from the left wing, putting in the Lady Jackets up 11-3 on the next possession.
The Lady Jackets began to heat up from behind the arc, as Johnting made another triple, followed by one from Mader, giving Cedarville an 18-11 advantage with less than a minute left. Cedarville continued to score at will, leading to an 8-0 run in less than two minutes.
The Lady Jackets closed the quarter with a 22-13 lead. Johnting led with six points while Huffman added four points and three rebounds.
Cedarville again fell into a scoring drought to open the second, missing its first six shots of the period. However, after a intentional foul committed by the Arrows, Cedarville scored six in a row to push its lead to 31-20 with 3:35 left. Cedarville successfully found soft spots in Ursuline’s zone, as Bolender made three shots from the high post during the scoring run.
The Lady Jackets closed the quarter shooting 5-6 and went on a 9-2 run. The spark in offense gave Cedarville a strong 40-25 lead at halftime. Bolender was on fire in the quarter, scoring 10 points. Johnting had nine points and three rebounds in the half and Huffman added eight points and four rebounds.
Cedarville’s defense was key in the first half, as the Lady Jackets allowed just 30.3% of Ursuline shots to go through the hoop. They also took advantage of turnovers, scoring 13 points from turnovers compared to Ursuline’s two.
“We started off strong, we had a good first half, and our team was sharing the ball really well,” Bolender said of the first half. “We had some good defensive stops.”
Wolford jumped into a passing lane to swipe away the first pass of Ursuline’s first possession of the third, leading to a fastbreak lay-up by the senior. Bolender continued her scorching shooting with five more points in the first five minutes. Wolford kicked it out to Bolender for a trifecta from the left corner, giving Cedarville a 49-35 mark with 5:56 on the clock.
Offensively, Ursuline continued to match shots with Cedarville, which kept the Lady Jackets from blowing the game open. While the margin remained around 12 points for much of the quarter, the Arrows were never able to get within striking distance.
Cedarville went cold, missing 1-8 attempts, which allowed Ursuline to cut the Lady Jacket lead. With 1:38 left, Cedarville’s lead was cut back down to double digits at 55-46.
The Lady Jackets were reeling to close the quarter and entered the fourth with a much tighter 55-52 lead. Ursuline enjoyed a 14-3 run in the final three minutes of the frame. The Arrows made 75% of its shots from the field in the third and outscored Cedarville 27-15.
“Tons of credit to Ursuline, they did not back down,” Hoffman said. “They just stormed back in the third and put a big push on us late. We started playing very tentative.”
The teams continued to tussle, but Cedarville held tight to its lead. The game wasn’t out of reach by more than a possession until Mader made a triple with 6:22 remaining, giving the Lady Jackets a 62-58 margin. Wolford made a sneaky cut to the hoop to score two more, putting the Lady Jackets back up by four less than a minute later.
After a lay-up made on a fastbreak, Cedarville finally ceded its lead. With 2:42 remaining, the game was tied at 66. Bolender dumped it in quickly to senior forward Cameron Peek for a wide open lay-up to get the lead again with 1:57 on the clock, 68-66.
Wolford took a key charge on the defensive end, giving the Lady Jackets the ball with the lead. With 1:12 left, Hoffman called a timeout before a key offensive possession as Cedarville looked to push its lead to two possessions.
The Lady Jackets failed to score, and lost their lead again after Ursuline got a bucket with 43 seconds left.
Cedarville called a timeout as Wolford swished a triple, but the shot was waved off as Cedarville called the timeout first. The Lady Jackets missed an attempt from behind the arc, and Ursuline had the ball with 25.8 seconds left, with the game tied at 68.
An offensive charge gave Cedarville the ball back with two seconds left. On the inbound, Wolford found Bolender for a five-footer. The freshman came through in the clutch, swishing the game-winning shot for the Lady Jackets.
“Coach Leonzo drew up a really good play, Abby had a good pass, Lex[i Moore] had a good screen, and I’m just fortunate the shot could go in,” Bolender said of her game-winning shot.
Cedarville will enjoy an entire week off before traveling south to take on Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday, followed by Trevecca on the following Monday. The Panthers are undefeated this season, sitting at 8-0 and at the top of the G-MAC. The Trojans sit in in the bottom half of the conference with a 3-6 record overall and an 0-1 record in conference.
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.