by Tim Miller
Sometimes, you just get homesick. After losing two straight road games, the Cedarville Yellow Jackets returned to the comfort of the Callan Athletic Center to pick up an 86-63 win over Tiffin on Thursday night.
With the win, Cedarville remains locked in a three-way tie for second place in a very competitive G-MAC. Three teams occupy the top of the standings with a 6-1 record.
Sophomore guard Quinton Green scored 25 points and hit on 4-6 chances from behind the arc. The Columbus, Ohio native also added five rebounds. Sophomore guard Branden Maughmer tallied 19 points on 7-13 shooting and sophomore center Kollin Van Horn was the only other Yellow Jacket to reach double figures with 10 points on 5-8 shooting.
As a whole, the Yellow Jackets (9-8, 5-3 G-MAC) made a name for themselves defensively, allowing just 35% of Tiffin field goals to go through the cup and 26% of its 3-pointers went in. Cedarville dominated the defensive glass, pulling down 10 more defensive boards than Tiffin.
Head coach Pat Estepp said the team spent the whole week on defense preparing for Tiffin.
“Our defense was the best it’s been all year,” Estepp said. “Our guys did a really good at communicating and they were urgent on defense.”
Estepp also juggled his lineup slightly, promoting freshman forward Jacob Drees and Van Horn to the starting lineup
“We’ve got six guys who can start and you can rotate them and not lose much,” Estepp said. “We felt like we were in a skid so we just charted some things in practice this week and the top five guys got the start. It gave us a little edge.”
Tiffin suffered turnovers on its first two possessions, allowing the Yellow Jackets to get settled in with a 2-0 lead a minute into the game. The Yellow Jackets continued to squeeze the Dragons defensively, allowing no field goals for the first three-and-a half-minutes. With 16:33 left, Cedarville led 7-1.
Tiffin responded with a 10-2 run in the next two minutes, giving the Dragons their first lead. However, Cedarville gave another blow to Tiffin and led 13-11 after an offensive rebound by Drees was converted to a lay-up with 12:42 on the clock.
The Yellow Jackets scored on two straight possessions to create some space and give them a lead 19-14 lead with 7:50 remaining. To that point, the Dragons had missed 11 of their last 12 field goal attempts.
The small run transformed into the first momentous swing of the game, as the Yellow Jackets went on a 14-3 run and scored 10 unanswered during the spurt to go up 33-19 with 3:29 left. Green scored five points during the run.
“We started getting stops,” Estepp said. “To finish the half, I think we had 19 stops in 24 possessions. That was the biggest thing.”
The well continued to run dry for the Dragons to close the half, and Cedarville took a 37-22 lead into the locker room. Maughmer led the Yellow Jackets with 13 points on 5-9 shooting. As a whole, Cedarville was an even 50% from the field and pulled away six more rebounds than Tiffin.
Defense was clearly the Yellow Jackets’ calling card in the first 20 minutes, as they allowed just 27.6% of Tiffin’s shots from the field to go in. Cedarville also forced 11 turnovers in the half. While the game was close for much of the first half, the Dragon’s inability to score only allowed them to lead for 1:37.
Estepp said had the Yellow Jackets taken better care of the ball in the first half, they would’ve had an even bigger lead.
Cedarville’s dominance on both ends allowed the Yellow Jackets to score the first six points of the second half and 11 of the first 17. With 17:23 left, the Yellow Jackets reached their first 20-point lead of the game at 48-28.
The next six minutes were rather uneventful, as the margin never dropped below 18. However, Cedarville was met with resistance on offense for one of the first times all game, which kept the Yellow Jackets from extending their lead. With 11:19 left, Cedarville led 58-39.
There wasn’t much to add to the second half, as the Yellow Jackets cruised to an easy win. Cedarville’s largest lead was 26 points.
Cedarville takes a short trip to Columbus for a game at Ohio Dominican this Saturday afternoon. The Yellow Jackets lost at home to the Panthers (7-10, 4-4 G-MAC) on Jan. 2, 78-71. With the loss tonight, Estepp said he expects the Panthers to play with a chip on their shoulder on Saturday.
“They’re really talented,” Estepp said of ODU. “They have one of the best big men in the league and have some good guards. I expect it to be a dog fight.”
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.