By John Bombatch
CEDARVILLE — A late 12-2 scoring run enabled the host Cedarville University Yellow Jackets to escape their own gym with a win, Tuesday night at the Callan Athletic Center.
Neighborhood foe Central State fell behind early, then battled back to hold a 69-65 lead over Cedarville with just over four minutes left in the non-league battle. But a pair of Emily Williams buckets, a Breanne Watterworth score and a 6-for-6 freethrow shooting touch down the stretch by Baylee Bennett, Watterworth and Regina Hochstetler put the Jackets on top for good in an exciting 77-71 win.
Cedarville coach Kari Hoffman said she emphasized making a defensive stop each time Central State went down the floor, especially during that final 4:04 stretch.
“We needed to just really have a huge sense of urgency in those last few minutes. That was huge for us,” she said. “I think this was a big stepping stone for us, we’re going to get better with each game. And it was good to get into a tight one like this, to see what that was like, and it was good to come out on top.”
Five Yellow Jacket players finished in double-figure scoring. Hochstetler led the way with a game-high 19, followed by Bennett with 16, Watterworth (13), Williams and Kaitlyn Holm (12 each).
Marauders coach Sheba Harris says her youthful CSU team will learn from the loss.
“We just didn’t execute at the end. In those last four minutes to close out the game, we had missed shots and opportunities to build the lead … but (Cedarville) executed down the stretch. When we didn’t score, they scored, and we should’ve done a better job of that,” Harris said.
“We’re still working on the team’s chemistry. We have eight new players, so we’re still trying to find that chemistry. It’s still early. Cedarville is one of the top teams in the G-MAC, so this was a good experience for us. We’ll learn from this and be better for it when we get into league play in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.”
Harris credited Tamara Sellers (14 points), Sierra Harley (18) and Ghameerah McCullers (17), with a good job contributing. “And Mustafa Natter had an overall great game. (Natter) is maybe 5-foot-9 or so, and she had to play a physical game against a talented 6-3 kid (Watterworth) all night. Those kids played really hard for us tonight,” Harris said.
CSU (2-2) jumps into SIAC play Nov. 29 when they travel to Orangeburg, S.C. to take on Claflin University.
The Cedarville women (2-3) are back in action at home Dec. 1 when they’ll play host to Ohio Christian. They’ll entertain another Greene County college foe two days later on Dec. 3 when Wilberforce plays at the Callan Center.
In the night game Tuesday, undefeated Ferris State (4-0) defeated the Cedarville men by a 95-73 score.
Recent Great Midwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week Patrick Bain led the Yellow Jackets (2-3) with 16 points. J.C. Faubion was the other Cedarville player in double figures. He finished with 12.
Cedarville’s next men’s basketball contest will be Monday, Nov. 26 when the Yellow Jackets head north to take on Findlay.
Ferris State’s Quentin Ruff and Zach Hankins led the Bulldogs with game-highs of 17 points in the win. Hankins also hauled in 21 rebounds.