by Tim Miller
Basketball is said to be a game of runs. The Cedarville Yellow Jackets kindly disregarded this rule in a 93-67 deconstruction of Trevecca on Thursday night. Cedarville never trailed in the win and held a lead for all but the first 55 seconds of the contest.
Sophomore forward Isaiah Speelman paced the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 20 points, hitting four of his five attempts from deep. The Hilliard, Ohio native also pull away five rebounds.
Head coach Pat Estepp explained that in between games, the coaching staff charts each player in practice on measurables that aren’t necessarily found in the stat sheet. Though Speelman dropped out of the starting lineup, Estepp said he brought a lot of the bench tonight.
“It shows a lot of maturity on his part,” Estepp said. “He did a tremendous job. He came out and was hitting shots and he really responded well.”
Sophomore guard Quinton Green added 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Junior forward Conner TenHove made his way back into the starting lineup and scored 12 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer put together a complete game with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
As a whole, the Yellow Jackets lit it up. They shot 56.5% from the field and knocked down 51.7% of their shots from behind the arc. Cedarville was as crisp with the ball as ever, suffering just three turnovers. Estepp credited the Yellow Jackets for consistently making the “easy pass”.
It seems as though Estepp will continue rolling out different lineups each game, riding whichever five are the playing the best and hustling the most. He said there’s good and bad attached to this tactic.
“We do have a lot of balance,” Estepp said. “I don’t know who is gonna be the guy every night, and it’s tough to scout. “The flip side is we need some consistency from guys. We’re starting to see that though as we start the final month of conference play.”
Maughmer and sophomore center Kollin Van Horn gave Cedarville the first four points of the game. Cedarville reached a 7-2 lead with 15:29 left after a TenHove trifecta, but Trevecca responded with a triple of its own. On the play, the Trojan shooter was fouled, and the made free throw made the score 7-6 with 14:53 left.
Cedarville blew the doors open in the next three minutes, scoring 14 consecutive points to take a 21-6 lead. The run was made possible in large part thanks to Speelman who made a triple on three straight offensive trips for the Yellow Jackets.
The Yellow Jackets cooled off, but only slightly, in the next few minutes. The Trojans finally started to score, but couldn’t shrink the lead much as Cedarville continued to hit shots, just at a lesser clip than during its 14-0 run. With 6:40 on the clock, the Yellow Jackets led 33-17.
Trevecca continued to chip away at its deficit, but Green scored six straight points to give Cedarville a much more comfortable cushion at 39-23 with 3:46 remaining.
The Trojans finally saw some success on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and a tiny run brought the score to 41-30 after Trevecca scored its fifth point in a row.
Even with the short spurt of good tidings, the Trojans still trailed by 15 at halftime. Cedarville gained its 45-30 margin thanks to scorching hot shooting. The Yellow Jackets made 66.7% of their shots from the field and an even 50% from behind the arc. Cedarville also surrendered the ball for turnovers just two times in the first 20 minutes.
Speelman led all scorers with 13 points on 5-7 shooting. TenHove contributed nine points, Green tallied eight, and senior guard Demond Parker added seven.
Estepp said he challenged his team in the locker room to put together a full half of defense during the break.
“I thought in the first half, we had a stretch where we defended very well,” Estepp said. “We didn’t close the last half well in the last five or six minutes.”
While the Yellow Jackets continued to have success on offense to open the second half, the defensive play left more to be desired. With 15:58 left and a 56-41 lead, Estepp called a timeout. Estepp called for his team to play hard on defense during the break.
Cedarville’s defense broke down as rotations were a step behind, leading to a triple for the Trojans. Green responded with a trifecta to push the margin back to 15.
After a Trevecca player was called for flopping for the second time of the game, the Yellow Jackets were rewarded a technical foul free throw. TenHove took the shot and made it, giving Cedarville a 20-point lead at 69-49 with 10:20 left. This was the Yellow Jackets first 20-point lead.
Cedarville continued its dominance to close out the game. Green took a lop in for a layup while getting fouled to put Cedarville up 81-55 with 4:49 left for what was likely the play of the game.
Estepp slowly took out starters in favor of those who sat a little closer to the South Pole (that is, the end of the bench) and the Yellow Jackets easily took home another dub.
Cedarville will play again on Saturday afternoon against Alderson Broaddus. This will be the only matchup between the two G-MAC foes. The Battlers have struggled this season as a middling performer in the G-MAC with a 6-13 record and 4-6 mark in the 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.