Crusaders Hold On and Upset Mount Union to Advance to Semifinals

Erin Risner scored a career-high 22 points to guide Cap to a win in the OAC Tournament opening round. (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Erin Risner scored a career-high 22 points to guide Cap to a win in the OAC Tournament opening round. (photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director

ALLIANCE, Ohio – It took more than a slow start to Tuesday night's quarter-final matchup to hold down the Capital University women's basketball team. The Crusaders picked up the pace and used a hefty lead to ride to a 65-60 victory over the University of Mount Union in the opening round of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament. Erin Risner broke out to lead Cap in its victory, which now advanced to the semifinals for the fifth consecutive year.

The win now sets up a rematch against second-seeded Marietta College on Thursday night. The Pioneers hosted and defeated No. 7 John Carroll University, 85-72, in their first-round matchup. The Crusaders and Pioneers will meet at Ban Johnson Arena at a time to be announced later.

Given the final score and the dramatic ending, it is hard to imagine that Capital came out of the chute and missed its first seven shots of the game until freshman Riley Hagy (New Lexington, Ohio/Bishop Rosencrans) hit a 3-point to end the drought. Eventually, Capital turned what was a 12.5 percent success rate from the field to 35 percent and took its first lead at the end of the first quarter following another Hagy 3-pointer with four seconds to go.

The Hagy triple began a 10-0 run that was fueled by a pair of buckets by junior Erin Risner (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) and was capped off by freshman Caroline Taphorn's trey. Thus began Risner's breakout. After a scoreless first quarter, Risner went off for 11 of Capital's 21 second-quarter points behind a 5-for-6 effort from the field. Despite Mount Union keeping itself at arm's length, Cap scored the last six points of the quarter to retain an eight-point lead, heading into halftime, 38-30.

Capital scored the first five points of the third quarter to extend its ongoing run to 15-0. Risner converted a three-point play the hard way before the streak of unanswered points ended. The CU lead grew to 15 later in the period after Risner went on to lay in another bucket to make the score 51-36 with 5:20 remaining in the third.

With an 11-point buffer to begin the fourth quarter Mount Union began to erase Capital's lead slowly after outscoring the Purple and White, 10-3. Coming out of a timeout, the Purple Raiders continued to take advantage of Cap's cool down but a pair of costly turnovers prevented the hosts from retaining the lead. Rachel Tinkey brought Mount Union to within a single point after hitting a 3-pointer with four minutes to go, but Capital answered to maintain its advantage.

Defense came on both ends as Mount Union blocked a Cassidy Bosch layup attempt, but Regan Stonerock stole the rock back on the next possession. Taphorn was fouled and sent to the free-throw line to make the lead five points, 62-57. The Purple Raiders came up empty in its next four shot attempts, marking the end of their comeback effort.

For the second straight year Capital has defeated a higher-seeded opponent in the OAC Tournament opening round. Last year, Cap beat rival Otterbein in a late thriller to move on to the second round.

Tuesday's win was in large part to Erin Risner and her new career-high 22 points. She went on to shoot 10-for-19 from the field and brought down five rebounds in the win. She has now scored 10 or more points seven of the last nine games.

Two additional Crusaders scored in double digits in the win. Annika Wachtman posted 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. Caroline Taphorn (Harrison, Ohio/McAuley) posted 15 points and tied Wachtman with six assists.

In her first career start, Hagy scored eight points in 26 minutes. She also posted three rebounds and an assist.

Tinkey led the Purple Raiders with 15 points and also added five rebounds in a losing effort. Rhiannon Petrisko scored 12 points and four rebounds. Four of the five Mount Union starters scored fewer than 10 points, and one was held scoreless.