By Josh Decker
The Cedarville men’s basketball team rallied from an early first-half deficit to sneak past the visiting Tiffin Dragons 81-77 on Thursday night.
The victory improves the Jackets’ regular-season record to 10-6, including a 6-3 mark in G-MAC conference play.
Senior Kollin Van Horn set the pace for the Cedarville offense, dropping 16 points on an efficient 7-11 from the floor and Branden Maughmer poured in 15 points, including a pair of triples to control the offense.
Jayvon Maughmer tallied 14 points on 6-12 shooting from the field, Isaiah Speelman added 12, and Conner TenHove scored 5 points while securing a team-high 8 rebounds.
“That win was the definition of choppy,” said Speelman. “Great teams find a way to win even when they’re not at their best, and I thought we did that.”
The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a quick 9-5 advantage, but Tiffin rallied with a run of their own to hold a slim two-point lead with just under twelve minutes remaining in the half.
Getting consistent defensive stops proved to be difficult for the Jackets as the Dragons exploded to a 32-20 advantage with 5:46 left, forcing a Cedarville timeout.
The Jackets managed to respond and put together a series of stops on defense which led to points on the other end of the court.
Cedarville heated up from behind the arc and drilled three-pointers on five of their next six possessions to level the score at 36-36 going into halftime.
The second half was tightly contested, with neither team able to go up more than one or two possessions.
The score was tied at 47-47 at the under-sixteen media timeout after Jayvon Maughmer drained a triple to give Cedarville some momentum.
Van Horn then went to work in the paint in the final twenty minutes, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the second half to give the Jackets some key baskets down the stretch.
With eight minutes to play and the score deadlocked at 63-63, Van Horn and Branden Maughmer went on an offensive run that saw the Jackets score points on seven of eight possessions and grab a narrow 76-73 lead with 3:18 remaining in the game.
Cedarville found itself clinging to a 78-75 advantage with 46.4 seconds remaining before Tiffin drove into the lane and converted a layup to make it a one-point game.
After the Jackets inbounded the ball, Speelman drew a foul to go to the line for a one-and-one.
The Hilliard, Ohio native sunk one of two free throws to put Cedarville up by two with 13.2 seconds left.
The Dragons drew a quick foul on the Yellow Jackets to go to the line, but missed both shots, and in the scramble for the ball, a technical foul was called on the visitors with 2.4 seconds on the clock.
Speelman stepped up and calmly hit both foul shots to give Cedarville a two-possession lead as the Jackets would go on to win 81-77.
“I am proud of our resilience tonight,” said head coach Pat Estepp. “We made the plays we had to in the second half, but as we head into this next stretch of games, we are going to have to get to a different level of urgency on the defensive end.”
Up next for Cedarville is a road matchup against fellow G-MAC opponent Ashland on Saturday, January 22nd at 3:00 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.