By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – When the long-range game did not work, the No. 21 Capital University Crusaders turned to a tried and true method that helped them defeat the Heidelberg University Student Princes on Wednesday night. Capital pounded the painted area for nearly half its points in an 86-80 win over Heidelberg at The Capital Center. Meanwhile, action around the league helped Capital use its win to move into sole possession of first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference, once again.
Capital's struggles continued from behind the arc so the Purple and White went back to its bread and butter: feed the ball inside. CU went 2-for-11 from distance and when the drought allowed The Berg to erase a 10-point lead early, they then made the adjustment to pound the painted area.
Not only did the switch in strategy help raise CU's shooting percentages but it put Heidelberg in foul trouble and the Crusaders to the free throw line a total of 19 times in the first half. Capital combined for 16-of-19 (.842) from the free throw line spread among six different players.
In a battle of the big men, Capital's "pound it" strategy created early foul trouble for Heidelberg standout Myron Prewitt, who was held to just three points and three shot attempts in the first half. On the other end, Capital senior Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) went 4-for-5 from the field in the first half to lead the Crusaders with 11 points and six rebounds.
While Capital was unable to find its groove from deep, the Student Prince long-range game kept them close to its host. Heidelberg went 7-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half with six different players factoring into that category. After Alex Arellano's 3 with four minutes remaining, neither team held more than a three-point lead before the end of the half. Heidelberg nearly took a lead into the break but with time winding down, senior Austin Schreck kicked a pass out to junior guard Dan Auble (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) in the near corner for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give CU the lead, 42-41.
Despite the last-second trey, Capital committed to the inside game for the duration of the contest and continued to convert at the free throw line. With the score 51-50, Ganiyu Yahaya kicked off a 10-0 run with a jumper, followed by Cox and Schreck hitting back-to-back layups following a Heidelberg miss and turnover. A second turnover turned into two more points from senior Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) and pushed the lead into double digits for the first time since early in the first half.
Just when the lead seemed comfortable, standing at 11 points with just over three minutes to go, Heidelberg hit three consecutive 3-point shots courtesy of Myron Prewitt, Dylan Woods and Connor Hutchison. That spurt cut the Capital lead to four, 74-70.
Leave it to Joey Weingartner for the answer. The senior from Centerville, Ohio hit a clutch fade-away three from the furthest point of the near-side corner to liven up the crowd, stop the Student Prince run and push the lead back to seven with 1:28 remaining. Will Hannah kept the play alive with the kick out pass to Weingarter after drawing contact and while falling to the baseline.
That play deflated the Student Princes and despite three more triples, they were unable to keep pace with the Crusaders who kept trading buckets and free throws to keep its distance en route to the win, 86-80.
Hannah broke out for 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, six coming from the charity stripe. He was part of the Crusaders' 14-of-15 effort from the free throw line in the second half, which fed into a tremendous night shooting from the charity stripe. Capital went a combined 30-for-34 (.882), dwarfing Heidelberg (7-13).
While both teams shot better than 50 percent from the field and Heidelberg held the edge by a wide margin from 3-point range, Capital turned the ball over seven fewer times than the Student Princes which led to 20 points off of turnovers for the Purple and White. Forty of Cap's 86 points came from the painted area, and 70 of its 86 came either from inside the paint or the free throw line.
Four out of five Capital starters finished with 10 or more points including Hannah (22), Cox (17), Schreck (11), and Auble (15). Ten of Auble's 15 points came from a perfect night at the line. Sophomore Joe Hartmann led all reserves with seven points.
While the Crusaders took care of business at home, they also learned after the game that with help from around the OAC they also slipped into sole possession of first place in the conference. The University of Mount Union defeated No. 11 Marietta College, 78-66, in Alliance to give the Pioneers its third conference loss. Capital, currently 13-2 in the OAC, now stands atop the OAC with three games left to play.
No. 21 Capital will take on Baldwin Wallace University (15-7, 9-6 OAC) on Saturday, February 9 in its final home game of the season. It will be a busy Saturday with it serving as Senior Day, Alumni Day and our first of two Freshii promotional days. Prior to the 2 p.m. tipoff, Capital will honor its senior cheerleaders and five senior men's basketball players. Alumni are granted free admission to the game, and Cap Athletics' newest partner, Freshii, will be on site with free menu samples, prizes, and a halftime shooting contest for a chance to win a catered party for you and 20 of your friends.