COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University men's basketball team battled with grit to the very end, but was defeated by the defending OAC Tournament Champion University of Mount Union Purple Raiders, 68-62, on Saturday afternoon.
Capital (4-3, 1-1 OAC) started the game slowly, missing its first six shot attempts while Mount Union (5-2, 2-0 OAC) built a 9-0 lead out of the gate. The Crusaders scored 10 of the next 16 points, all by different shooters, to keep within arm's length of the Purple Raiders. The freshman class helped bring the Crusaders within one point following Austin Schreck (Erlonger, Ky.), Joe Thomas (Columbus, Ohio/Centennial) and Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio) helped cut into the lead with four free throws and a tip in.
Hannah later gave Capital its first lead of the game, drilling 3-pointer from the left wing with 7:03 remaining in the first half. That served as the major turning point of the first half, beginning a 10-0 run to make for a 28-21 score heading into the last four minutes. Capital held that lead and took a 37-29 score into halftime.
Mount Union quickly leveled the score, though Capital was at a slight disadvantage after the shot clock on their side of the court malfunctioned. The Purple Raiders closed the gap, hitting three of their first four shots of the second half while Capital missed their first three. Despite another slow start, the Crusaders kept within one point and even took a brief lead when senior Michael Green (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) answered a missed dunk attempt by Jarrett Ruffin with a steal and a 3-pointer on the other end. The tide turned shortly after JJ Kukura dropped the next five points on consecutive possession. Jarrett Ruffin hit a pair of key jumpers to keep enough distance to secure a 68-62 win.
A.J. Dixon (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) led the Crusaders with 13 points and added three assists, two steals, and four rebounds. Hannah finished with 11 points and served as the second of four Crusaders to end with four rebounds.
Jake Jacubec led all scorers with 23 points, and aided in Mount Union's high field goal shooting percentage (.509) by going 9-for-15 from the field. Ruffin put up a double-double behind 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kukura left with 16 points off of the bench.
Capital will play again next Saturday, Dec. 12, when it hosts Ohio Northern University. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. from inside The Capital Center.