By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Men's Basketball will be heading into the holiday break on the nice list as the Crusaders were able to pull away from Wilmington College in the team's final game of 2018 with a 75-62 victory.
In a second half filled with fouls and free throws, the Crusaders (10-2, 5-0 Ohio Athletic Conference) outscored Wilmington 46-31 after entering the break down by two. Wilmington was called for three fouls in the opening 16 seconds of the second half and then increased its lead to 33-29 on its next offensive possession after a turnover. Back-to-back buckets from Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) and Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) tied the game at 33 though and the Crusaders never trailed from that point on.
A make and a free throw from Joe Hartmann (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) put Cap up three and after some see-sawing scoring from both sides, Capital led 42-39. Capital's next basket, from Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) sparked a 12-0 run for the Crusaders that lasted until the 9:35 mark. Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) had five points in the stretch with a layup and three free throws, Cox scored four and Schreck had three.
After Capital's run, Wilmington began a smaller run of its own over the next several minutes and cut the Capital lead to as little as six with 3:08 to play. However, Wilmington was not able to completely stop the Crusader offense and Capital was able to keep the Quakers far enough away to keep the pressure down. That combined with Capital's clutch free throw shooting kept the Purple and White in control.
In the second half, Capital entered the bonus with 16:28 to play and were in the double-bonus at the 11:41 mark. The Crusaders attempted 26 second-half free throws and knocked down 18 of them. Hannah alone had 11 tries from the charity stripe in the second and he converted 10 of them. He finished the game 12-13 from the line. Capital also got into some second-half foul trouble but Wilmington only took 14 free throws in the second and made only seven of them.
The teams traded baskets down the stretch as Capital emerged victorious. Hannah led the Crusaders with a season-high 18 points while adding 11 rebounds, another season best, and four assists. Cox double-doubled with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 15 rebounds while Schreck contributed 13 points and seven boards. Wilmington's DaeShawn Jackson scored a game-high 20 points off of the Wilmington bench.
As a team, Capital shot only 42.9 percent from the floor but were 25-of-35 from the free throw line. And while the Capital offense was not at its best, the Crusaders locked Wilmington down on defense, forcing the Quakers to shoot 19-of-58 from the floor, only 32.8 percent. Capital also had a huge 54-25 advantage on the boards and Capital had 17 offensive rebounds. Capital also led 38-18 in points in the paint.
With the victory, Capital already has 10 wins, something the team did not achieve until Jan. 24 last season, and were undefeated in the month of December. Capital is also one of only three OAC teams to be undefeated in conference play. The nine consecutive wins ties the nine-game winning streak achieved by the 2012-13 team and is the longest since the 2008-09 Crusaders won 11 in a row from Dec. 13 – Jan. 29. The 2008-09 Capital team went on to set the program record for most wins in a single season with 26 and lost only five times all year.
This year's Crusaders now enter their holiday break and will be off until the first week of January when the team's schedule increases in difficulty. Capital will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 5 against the University of Mount Union and will then play Marietta College and John Carroll University right out of the gates. Tip off against Mount Union in The Capital Center in the team's first game back is scheduled for 2 p.m.