Cedarville leads the G-MAC after gritty win against Malone

By Emily Tuttle

The Cedarville Yellow Jackets (14-5) defeated Malone University (9-10) 68-59 on Wednesday night. They improved to 8-1 in conference play and hold the top spot in the G-MAC.

The Jackets struggled offensively all night. They couldn’t seem to buy a shot in a win where their defense came up large.

They shot only 38.2% from the field despite creating some great looks. It just didn’t seem to be their night, but they dug deep and figured out how to win.

Jacob Drees’ double-double partnered with Anthony Ruffolo’s timely steals and shots helped keep the Jackets in the game offensively. Jayvon Maughmer put the nail in Malone’s coffin when he hit a three with only a minute and a half remaining. 

These turning points, however, were made necessary by Cedarville’s inconsistent shooting and sloppy offense. They shot only 27.8% from behind the arc, matching their lowest three-point percentage of the season. Conversely, Malone created shots and capitalized on them early. They began the game with ten quick points. 

The Pioneers lead did not last long as the Jackets realized they would have to win the game on the defensive side of the ball.

“We didn’t let our offense affect our defense,” Coach Pat Estepp said. 

The men played their opponent tightly on the defensive end. They blocked six shots and stole the ball to crush Malone’s momentum. Their defensive effort displayed grit and allowed them to lead for most of the contest.

Cedarville’s bench also played an important role in the win, scoring 22 to Malone’s 9. Players like Ruffolo, Timothy Davis and Tymoteusz Pszczola gave the team a spark, and they combined for all of the bench’s points. 

Although the game wasn’t what the Jackets had hoped for, a tough win was necessary for the group.

“We needed that,” Estepp said. “We needed a game where things weren’t easy, they weren’t clicking and we weren’t just on fire from three. We had to go find other ways to win.”

Cedarville was determined; they put their heads down and fought. They refused to give up on shooting despite their struggles and their perseverance paid off when it mattered most. 

“We had to dig down,” Estepp said. “Our guys showed a lot of grit and toughness down the stretch.”

Estepp was proud of his players and hoped that the game taught them how to win when nothing was going their way. 

The Jackets’ success against Malone extends their win streak to eight and holds their place at the top of the G-MAC. Cedarville still has to play Trevecca Nazarene twice, who trail the Jackets by just a game. But first, Cedarville will attempt to defend their one-game lead in another conference matchup on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. versus Hillsdale. 

Emily Tuttle is a freshman Broadcasting, Digital Media and Journalism major. She has a passion for Philly sports, weight lifting and all things silly. 

Photos by Ian Chan

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