by Josh Decker
The Yellow Jackets put together a hard-fought game against NABC No. 15 Hillsdale Saturday night, but came up just short against the Chargers, falling by a final score of 58-57.
With the loss, Cedarville drops to 5-4 overall with a 3-1 record in G-MAC play.
The game comes only two days after the Jackets put together a tremendous performance to stun conference rival Findlay with a 68-66 victory on the road.
Cedarville was still without starting point guard Branden Maughmer for the second straight game due to an injury, but the Jackets presented Hillsdale with a tough matchup.
Senior Quinton Green led the Yellow Jackets offensively, scoring 14 points while sophomore Jayvon Maughmer added 11 points to go with five rebounds.
Senior Isaiah Speelman led the team with six boards and also contributed 7 points on 3-6 shooting from the field.
From the tip, the Jackets brought an element of toughness and energy, and Cedarville was able to work the ball into the paint the first few offensive possessions. Both Kollin VanHorn and Conner TenHove scored inside as the teams exchanged buckets.
Cedarville held a narrow 8-7 edge by the under-16 media timeout, and then freshman Brayden Sipple dropped in a layup and drilled a triple to tie the game at 15 apiece with twelve minutes to play in the first half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Speelman and Maughmer started a streak of five straight offensive possessions with scores, which helped give the Jackets a 24-19 advantage with just under eight minutes to play.
A Jacob Drees shot inside the paint gave the Jackets a nine-point advantage before Hillsdale hit a shot to make it 35-28 going into halftime.
The Jackets had a solid first twenty minutes defensively, and despite being only 2-9 from behind-the-arc, Cedarville was shooting an impressive 50 percent from the field.
The Yellow Jackets had also taken care of the ball, only committing two turnovers while forcing the Chargers to commit 10 turnovers in the half.
Coming out of the break, however, the Jackets struggled with ball security as Hillsdale forced five turnovers in Cedarville’s first eight possessions.
As the period progressed, Hillsdale continued to close the margin, though the Jackets still held a 46-42 lead with twelve minutes remaining.
Green nailed a 3-pointer and Sipple added a layup as Cedarville extended the advantage to seven with eight minutes left and the score at 51-44.
However, turnovers continued to be an issue for the Jackets, who went cold on offense and ended up on a run of only scoring one basket in twelve possessions.
Hillsdale took advantage and jumped out to a one-point lead with just over three minutes remaining.
Green responded and hit a mid-ranger before Maughmer spun his way inside to get a bucket in the paint and give the Jackets a 57-54 edge with 24 seconds left on the clock.
Hillsdale drew a foul and nailed a pair of free throws to make it a 57-56 game again before intentionally fouling Cedarville’s Quinton Green.
Green stepped up to shoot a 1-and-1, but missed the front end and Hillsdale quickly advanced the ball up the court and scored a quick layup with only 3.5 seconds remaining.
Despite the Jackets’ last-second attempt to heave the ball down the court, Hillsdale prevailed and Cedarville fell 58-57.
The Jackets finished the contest shooting 44 percent from the field, but went only 4-18, or 22 percent from deep.
Hillsdale ended the game shooting 49 percent from the floor and converting on 5-18, or 28 percent from behind-the-arc.
Cedarville also finished with 13 turnovers, though Hillsdale committed 16 of their own in the game.
The Yellow Jackets will now head on an exciting trip to Lakeland, Florida and attempt to get back in the win column again. The Jackets will face Saint Leo on Saturday, December 18th at 5:30 P.M. and Florida Southern on Sunday, December 19th at 7:30 P.M.
Josh Decker is a senior 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.