By Alan Brads
Cedarville defeated Ohio Dominican 75-56 in their G-MAC opener on Thursday, November 30.
The win lifts the Yellow Jackets to 4-3, back above the the .500 mark, and more importantly 1-0 in the G-MAC. The Panthers drop to 1-4.
“Getting that first conference win is big,” Head Coach Pat Estepp said. “And getting it the way we did … I’m really proud of them.”
A 17-1 run in the second half made all the difference after a first half where it felt like both teams were on the cusp of finding their rhythm and blowing the game open.
The Jackets love to shoot the three ball, and zeroed in on the basket from downtown at the right time. Leading just 36-35 with 17 minutes left, senior Jayvon Maughmer hit a three. Timothy Davis followed suit, then Anthony Ruffolo, Grant Whisman, Ruffolo again, Chris Rogers, all while allowing just a single field goal on the other end.
Bolstered by a Jacob Drees jumper, the 20-3 run slammed the door shut in the Panthers’ faces at the ten minute mark, the same door that stood wide open just seven minutes prior.
Drees led the way for the Jackets all night, leading the squad with 14 points, and capitalizing on his height advantage over Ohio Dominican’s bigs to pick up a double-double with 10 rebounds. He got two offensive rebounds in the game before the Panthers ever touched the basketball.
Estepp looked to exploit that height difference in the first half, targeting the 6’7” Drees and using the 6’10” frame of Tymoteusz Pszczola off the bench. But Ohio Dominican’s double teams in the paint did their job, slowing the Jackets’ vertical attack and forcing Estepp to pivot.
“Offensively we were too worried about mismatches inside and running certain things instead of just playing,” Estepp said. “We have some guys with a really high basketball IQ. That’s something we look for in recruiting. We’re fortunate to have guys that are smart, can make adjustments, have a high skill level and can win different ways.
The second half featured Cedarville playing with four guards on the perimeter focusing on dribble driving, then kicking to an open shooter. Given the 17-1 run, it’s fair to say the counter-intuitive strategy of abandoning the favorable height disparity and countering small with small worked for the Jackets.
“There was a lot more space in this game with four guards,” said Rogers, the point guard, who finished with 11 points. “We were just trying to get in the lane and find guys. We shoot it so well, it’s an honor to be able to get in the lane and anywhere I look there’s a guy who can hit a three. That makes my job super easy.”
Cedarville’s first half of shooting 27.8% from three point land gave way to 42.9% in the second half.
The win continued a bizarre streak of alternating wins and losses this year that now extends through their first eight games, counting the exhibition against Dayton.
They’ll look to break that streak in another conference matchup this Saturday, December 2, when they travel to new G-MAC member Thomas More, seeking to maintain G-MAC perfection.
Alan Brads is a senior journalism student and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums, speaking Spanish and watching Buckeye football like his life depends on it.