CEDARVILLE, Ohio – Tiffin men's basketball took Cedarville down to the wire for the second time this season, but fell just short again as the Yellow Jackets pulled away late for an 86-80 victory.
The Dragons were looking to avenge a narrow two-point loss to Cedarville at home earlier this season and held on to a one-point lead with less than five minutes to play. Good free-throw shooting down the stretch sealed the game for the Yellow Jackets, though, as they went 23-27 (85.2%) from the foul line in the game.
Tiffin outshot Cedarville from deep, hitting 33.3% (8-24) to 26.3% for the home team. The Dragons also only committed an impressive seven turnovers while forcing 16.
Five Dragons were in double figures led by Austin Adams' 18. Shane Waldon had 15 points and eight boards, while Joshua Williams added 14 points. Hunter Schmalz (11 points, three triples) and Thomas Hickman (12 points) also made good contributions off the bench.
The Dragons got off to a very strong start, as after falling into an early 7-4 hole, went on a 13-4 run to take a 17-11 lead at the 12:36 mark of the opening half. Adams and Waldon each had back-to-back layups to start the run, and Schmalz capped it with a deep three from the corner.
The Yellow Jackets were able to tie things up at 21 four minutes later, but Tiffin grabbed the lead back on an Adams layup. The Dragons stayed in front until Cedarville tied the game up again at 34 with 3:35 to play in the half.
Cedarville was able to add a couple buckets before the break and take a 40-37 lead into halftime. Adams and Waldon were both already in double figures at the break, with 14 and 10, respectively.
The Dragons responded well to start the second-half, quickly taking back the lead on a couple Terrell Mabins free throws and an Adams layup.
A Schmalz layup extended the run to six and put Tiffin up 43-40, but a 13-4 Yellow Jacket run followed to give Cedarville a 53-47 advantage with 12:41 to play.
The Dragons kept clawing back, though, as they regained the lead just two minutes later on a deep triple from Williams to make it 59-57 in favor of the visitors.
Tiffin held the lead for another four minutes thanks in big part to the tough, physical play of Williams as he repeatedly got to the line and managed to drain another three. Buoyed by a raucous home crowd, Cedarville managed to tie things back up at 66, however, with 6:06 to play.
The teams kept trading blow after blow as the game was also tied at 68 and then 70. However, Cedarville was able to be the team that finally pulled away, scoring eight of the next nine points to take a 78-71 lead with 2:10 to go.
The Dragons were able to cut the deficit to four, 82-78, on a Thomas Hickman triple with 33 seconds remaining, but Cedarville escaped with the 86-80 win.
TU will now return to Tiffin for their final home game of the year next Saturday when they host Lake Erie for Senior Day at 3:00 p.m.