by Josh Decker
The Cedarville Yellow Jackets used a strong second half effort to rally from a six-point halftime deficit in a 74-70 win over Walsh (7-6) Wednesday night. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was moved due to severe weather conditions that prevented Cedarville from making the trip to Walsh.
With the victory, the Jackets extend the winning streak to three games and improve their season record to 9-5. The win also moves Cedarville into fourth place in the G-MAC standings.
The Yellow Jackets finished the evening with four players in double-figures offensively. Senior Conner TenHove paced the Jackets’ offense, finishing the game with 17 points and shooting 3-5 from deep. Junior Isaiah Speelman poured in 13 points on 5-9 shooting from the field in 32 minutes of action.
Junior Branden Maughmer, who played 38 minutes, finished close to his season-average with 16 points to go with five rebounds, and sophomore Jacob Drees had his best offensive night of the season, scoring 15 points on 6-10 shooting from the field while finishing 50 percent from 3-point range. Drees also had a game-high eight rebounds for the Yellow Jackets.
In a game where Cedarville did not have many assists, forward Kollin VanHorn led the Jackets with three while adding 3 points.
“I think everyone did a really good job at halftime of calming down, establishing what we needed to do better, and then executing in the second half,” said Speelman about the victory.
Cedarville started the game off with two straight buckets from Maughmer, giving Cedarville a quick 5-0 lead. By the first media timeout, the Jackets had a 12-7 advantage over the Cavaliers.
Walsh then went on a run of their own as Cedarville struggled offensively out of the timeout, with the Jackets coming up empty five straight possessions.
With 12 minutes to go in the half, Walsh cut the lead to two before Cedarville managed to score on only two of their next eight possessions. A combination of poor defense and easy shots gave the Cavaliers a 30-22 lead.
Head Coach Pat Estepp challenged his guys in a timeout, and the response was three straight baskets from VanHorn, Drees, and freshman Jayvon Maughmer to bring Cedarville within one possession of Walsh.
Going into halftime, Walsh had a 38-32 advantage over the Yellow Jackets. Cedarville shot 44 percent from the floor in the first half, and the team was only 5-15 from behind-the-arc.
Walsh controlled the boards with an 18-14 rebounding advantage, and also dominated the Jackets down low with a 20-10 lead in points in the paint.
Coming into the final twenty minutes, the Jackets’ gave up two quick buckets which prompted a timeout by Estepp.
Cedarville then stepped up defensively, and started hitting shots to go on a run of five straight possessions with a basket, which gave the Yellow Jackets a 52-51 lead.
The game remained tight for much of the rest of the half, and the Jackets were holding onto a 62-59 lead with only a few minutes left in the contest.
A Branden Maughmer triple gave Cedarville a 65-59 cushion, but Walsh kept trading buckets to keep the score tight.
Free throws ended up being the difference in the game, as the Jackets were an excellent 9-10 from the line down the final stretch of the game, which secured the 74-70 win over Walsh.
“I think we started to get stops and get out in transition,” said Estepp about his team’s second-half performance. “It started with defending- we defended the three better and rebounded the ball better. We also moved the ball on offense and did a good job playing inside out.”
Cedarville finished the night 46 percent from the field, while shooting 39 percent from deep. Cedarville did get out-worked on the boards, as Walsh ended the game with a 37-30 advantage, which will undoubtedly be a point of emphasis for Estepp and his team to work on. The Jackets finished the contest 12-15 from the free throw line, which proved to be key factor in the win.
The Yellow Jackets’ have a back-to-back for the first time this season as the team returns home to the Callan Athletic Center Thursday night to play Walsh again. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. as Cedarville looks to ride the momentum of the three-game winning streak.
Josh Decker is a junior Sport Business Management major, and a sports reporter for Cedars. He loves playing sports with friends, and spends much of his free time as a student assistant for the Cedarville men’s basketball team.