By: Alan Brads
The Cedarville men’s basketball team faltered at home for the first time on Thursday, December 1, in their conference opener.
The undefeated Hillsdale Chargers entered Callan Athletic Center with a perfect 7-0 record, and a stellar performance from their bench carried the nationally ranked squad to their eighth straight victory by a margin of 72-60.
Cedarville dominated the first few minutes of the game before fatigue set in and players came flying off the bench.
The Chargers’ bench outscored Cedarville’s 29-4, led by Charles Woodhams, who scored 18.
“We just weren’t hitting shots.” Cedarville head coach Pat Estepp said. “We couldn’t get anything going. We had guys off the bench who were getting open looks but they just would not fall.”
The Yellow Jackets refused to die quietly. Through the second half, Hillsdale’s leads would inflate to eight or nine before popping and shrinking back down to a single-score lead. But down the stretch, Cedarville couldn’t find the bottom of the net enough times to stay within striking distance.
“We shot 21% from three,” junior forward Jayvon Maughmer said. “That’s not what we usually do.”
Cedarville typically averages over 10 3-pointers, but facing a stiff Hillsdale defense they sunk only six of 28 attempts.
Maughmer and Jacob Drees led the way with 19 points and combined for six blocks, but the dynamic duo’s efforts wouldn’t be enough to overcome the nationally-ranked Chargers.
This marks Cedarville’s first home loss of the season, a disappointment to the blue and yellow-clad majority of over 1,000 fans in attendance.
“We had a great crowd, I want to thank them,” Estepp said. “They’ve been really good at every game we’ve played at home. I wanna thank them for coming out.”
Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets won’t see another crowd this passionate for another month and a half. The normally jam-packed and riotous student section will be empty due to a string of road games, a home game near the tail end of exam week and a Christmas break that bleeds into mid-January.
Despite the loss to open up league play, the Yellow Jackets seek to keep their eyes set on the future, with 20 conference games still ahead.
“Hillsdale’s good, and we’re really young,” Estepp said. “This is a pretty big task for a team with as little experience as we have on the floor.”
The next opportunity comes on a quick turnaround on Saturday, December 3, as the Yellow Jackets travel north to take on conference foe Lake Erie.
“I’ve been really proud of our guys this fall,” Estepp said. “They’ll bounce back, they’ll answer. No doubt about that.”
Alan Brads is a sophomore journalism student and frequent contributor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums and speaking Spanish, and watches Buckeye football like his life depends on it.