By John Bombatch
CEDARVILLE — With seven Yellow Jacket players new to the team and each other, the Cedarville men’s basketball team is taking its lumps. They took their third lump of the season Wednesday as the visiting University of Findlay Oilers went on a big first-half run, then held off a Jackets comeback for a 69-60 win at the Callan Athletic Center.
Despite the loss, Cedarville coach Pat Estepp was encouraged by how his team played.
“Yeah, I think we’re making progress. We’re really young though,” he said. “We have six freshmen and five of them are getting a lot of minutes. We have two sophomores … so there’s seven of our 10 players, and we have a transfer. So really, eight of our 10 players haven’t played very much together.
“As frustrating as it is to lose, I think we made a good step forward tonight,” Estepp said. “There were some really good things that happened out there. Defensively in the second half, we finally showed up and defended a little bit. We haven’t through a whole game, yet. We’ve just gotta take the lid off the rim and make things happen.”
Estepp said one pattern he’d like for his youthful Yellow Jackets to get out of is the tendency to give up a big scoring run by their opponents late in the first half. It happened again on Wednesday as the Oilers reeled off a 19-5 run in the closing minutes of the half.
Part of that run was a 10-0 spurt that ultimately gave the Oilers the lead for good at 24-19 with six minutes left to play in the half.
Taren Sullivan scored five of his 11 first-half points during the run, including back-to-back threes with teammate Martyce Kimbrough, who finished with eight points in the half.
A pair of Bazzoli free throws pulled Cedarville within 63-60 with 1:56 left to play, but the Oilers closed out the game with a 6-0 run to seal the win.
Findlay’s Kimbrough led all scorers with 19 points while Sullivan and Chaminade Julienne product John Staley finished with 13 each.
J.C. Faubion led Cedarville in the half with eight points, and Justice Montgomery was next with six.
Faubion led Cedarville (0-3) with 15 points, Patrick Bain scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half, and Kwenton Scott finished with seven. Montgomery, Easton Bazzoli, Robert Okoro and Colton Linkous each finished with six points.
The win was Findlay’s first of the season.
“We were in the same situation as Cedarville. We played in a tournament in Las Vegas, lost to two good teams in a couple close games, so any win was going to be a good win,” Findlay veteran coach Charlie Ernst said. “I have a lot of respect for Pat and his program. They scrap. They’re young, but they play really hard. A lot of those same players you saw tonight will be playing against each other in two years when we are in the same conference.”
In June it was announced that five Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools — Findlay, Hillsdale, Lake Erie, Ohio Dominican and Walsh — will be joining the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, starting with the 2017-18 academic year.
Cedarville returns to action Saturday when they’ll host Northwood (Mich.) University at 4:15 p.m. at the Callan Center.