Cedarville’s Second-Half Struggles Allow Kentucky Wesleyan to Secure Win

By Emily Tuttle

Cedarville University students and fans came out to support their Jackets in an intense Thursday night thriller. They cheered incessantly and leaped to their feet in crucial moments, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

The Cedarville men’s basketball team narrowly fell to G-MAC leader Kentucky Wesleyan 90-77 in a close matchup.

The Panthers couldn’t seem to miss all evening. They shot nearly 52% from beyond the arc and 50% from the field. They traded baskets with Cedarville throughout, but ultimately pulled ahead in the second half.

In the first, Cedarville started slow and Kentucky Wesleyan capitalized with a 12-point lead. However, the Jackets fought back and sported a five-point lead at the half thanks to the energy of the crowd.

“They were tremendous and I really appreciate them coming out at full force tonight,” head coach Pat Estepp said. “That was big.”

But even the fans couldn’t rally the men back in the second half. When they needed to extend their lead against a talented opponent, they did the opposite.

Cedarville went cold and scoreless for nearly five minutes. They allowed Kentucky Wesleyan to go on an 18-4 run and waved their halftime lead goodbye. 

Estepp knew his team didn’t step onto the court the way they needed to in the second. 

“We didn’t start how the way you have to start in a game like this,” Estepp said. 

And once again, the Panthers’ ability to shoot the ball, play tight defense and rebound propelled them to victory. 

Although the Jackets were playing often great defense in the second half, they consistently gave their opponent opportunities with a fresh shot clock. Kentucky Wesleyan outrebounded Cedarville 25 to 14 in the second and gained 15 second-chance points. 

Estepp noted how his team would play stellar defense for a full 25 to 30 seconds, but because of an offensive rebound, they could not sustain that level for another possession. The lack of rebounding tired out the Jackets and hurt them on both ends of the floor.

Players like Jayvon Maughmer, however, helped the Jackets offensively. Maughmer played a team-high of nearly 35 minutes and scored 21. He battled to the rim for points in the paint and shot consistently from the field. 

Anthony Ruffolo also contributed 18 points, 12 of those being on 3-pointers. Jacob Drees went to work in the lane scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

These men, however, could not hold the Panthers off. Although successfully outplaying them in the first, they succumbed to their opponent’s second-half surge. 

The Jackets struggled to make stops the Panthers took advantage of it. They allowed Kentucky Wesleyan to continually chip away at their lead until it was gone for good.

The fans never gave up hope and rallied until the final seconds. They employed many techniques to distract the opposing team but to no avail.

“I wish we could’ve pulled it off for them as much as us,” Estepp said. 

The Jackets hope to quickly regroup before Saturday’s matchup in Callan against Trevecca Nazarene.

“We played some really good basketball tonight,” Estepp said. “At moments, we were really really good, we just didn’t play enough of it.”

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

Photo by Cody Ballmer

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