Taylor University’s basketball teams hosted Miami University Middletown and dispatched both their men’s and women’s teams in emphatic fashion.
In the women’s game, it was a night to remember as the Trojans beat Miami Middletown 116-39 — their largest margin of victory since 2001.
The scoring came early, often, and widespread for the Trojans, as TU outscored Miami-Middletown 30-9 in the first quarter. Junior Center Gretchen Moll led the way with six points, with senior Lauren James close behind with five while three other Trojans contributed four points en route to a 21-point Taylor lead.
“It was important that we come out strong,” Moll said. “It is something that our coach has emphasized.”
That lead only expanded in the second quarter, as the Trojans posted 29 more points in comparison to a mere three-point quarter for the Thunderhawks. Taylor was lights out on defense, relentless in its pressure which led to Miami-Middletown going 0-14 from the floor. Sophomore Taylor Westgate scored seven in this spell, to put the Trojans in the driving seat.
“We've struggled with starting out strong lately,” Westgate said. “So working on that will help us in the future with tough games versus conference teams just around the corner.”
Taylor went into the half up 59-12, preventing the opponent from scoring a single bucket in the paint. Moll talked about what Coach Jody Martinez said at halftime.
“He stressed about making layups, as we were doing everything else well, but to consistently make the layups,” Moll said.
Taylor ran away with the scoreline in the second half of the game, as they extended their lead to seventy-seven points, however, it was a night to remember for Moll and Westgate, as they both had career nights, with 10 boards and 16 points, and 14 points and 16 rebounds respectively.
“Gretchen and Taylor are our only 2 post players (5-man),” Martinez said. “They create a strong inside-outside game for us to be competitive. They both push each other in practice and are improving every day.”
The women’s team has been prone to injury, with that being the main factor that only two of the 39 practices so far have been done with the entire squad, but the win will be a confidence booster as the Trojans (4-4) will look to carry their momentum into their Crossroads League-opener at Huntington (2-3) on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 1 pm.
The men’s game was more of a scrappy affair, with the Trojans pulling away in the second half and beating Miami Middletown 76-65.
Taylor started off with a whimper as they were outplayed by the Middletowners early in the game, as they struggled the physical team.
The Trojans found themselves on the wrong side of a 14 point gap as they struggled to find their way without senior Jason Hubbard against the extremely physical MUM defense.
“At halftime we prayed, because we all felt that we were like, not playing like ourselves,” junior Forward Jeff Clayton said. “So we prayed that the fear comes out of us and that whatever is holding us back releases.”
After shooting 32.3% in the first half and attempting only four free throws, Taylor switched gears after the break and began actively attacking the paint and drawing fouls. The result was a 51.9% field goal rate over the final 20 minutes and a 15-of-20 showing from the charity stripe.
Clayton blocked a dunk in the second half, that sent the crowd into raptures, and which signaled a shift in the tide of the game.
“We were kind of low energy, and I know those simple plays can change the crowd and get them hyped,” Clayton said. “And that makes us hyped, and makes us play better.”
Sophomore Guard Kaden Fuhrmann ignited the second-half charge, scoring 16 points during a game-saving,Trojan rally that erased the 14-point deficit and gave them the rightfully deserved lead.
Taylor ended up outscoring the guests by a 48-27 gap in the second half. Fuhrmann enjoying a career night, leading all players with a career-high 26 points, notching his second game of at least 25 points already this season and sinking four triples for a third-straight outing. The Liberty Township, Ohio native also posted a personal best by going 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and added five rebounds, three assists and one steal.
“My teammates did a great job of just getting me the ball where I wanted it and then I was able to convert more of those shots.” said Fuhrmann. “I think it was an all-around good team performance. I think we all fought through the adversity of being down by 14, came back and were able to take the win.”