Crusaders Fight to Bitter End, Fall to #10 Marietta

Photo Credit: Joe Maiorana
Photo Credit: Joe Maiorana

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University men's basketball team hosted the 10th-ranked Pioneers of Marietta College, Wednesday night. The Crusaders mounted an exciting comeback, creating a 13-point swing in the second half but fell short in a 78-74 loss at The Capital Center.

After a dim first half left many wondering if a comeback was possible, the Crusaders mounted an attack that erased an 18-point halftime deficit.

With Marietta (12-2, 6-1 OAC) up 76-63 with 3:27 to go, Capital (8-6, 4-3 OAC) made things exciting with a 9-0 run, making for a four-point game. Junior Curt Geise (Delphos, Ohio) kicked the run off with a deep three, and then after a Marietta turnover senior A.J. Dixon (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Bradley) was sent to the charity stripe for two freebies. Marietta began getting cold from the floor, missing three straight shots. That allowed senior Mark Minch (Cincinnati, Ohio) to run the floor after grabbing one of his nine rebounds and go the distance to make for a six-point affair. Geise kept closing the gap after being fouled on a layup attempt, and after his two makes made for a 76-72 contest with 1:03 remaining, in favor of the Pioneers.

Capital had a chance following another miss to make it a one-possession game, but freshman Joe Thomas came up just short on a short-range jumper and Austin Schreck was unable to keep it in play, giving Marietta the ball with 20.3 seconds to go. Marietta missed a free throw on a one-and-one opportunity, prompting a timeout. Out of the break, Dixon rushed down the court, missed his layup but the follow up from Schreck was good, and he was fouled. However, a lane violation was called on the ensuing free throw, nullifying the missed shot and the chance for the rebound. Marietta hit its free throws on the other end following a Capital foul, sealing the win, 78-74.

Seven first-half turnovers kept Capital from getting its offense off the ground, despite a high shooting percentage. The Crusaders shot 42.9 percent as a team in the first half, but forfeited a number of scoring chances with its turnovers. Meanwhile, Marietta used its fast-paced offense and sharp three-point shooting to build an 18-point lead at half. The initial breakaway began with 13:38 to go when Anthony Wallace scored four straight and then strong work on the boards afforded the Pioneers extra opportunities for Nate Walker and Jack Thome to bulk up the lead to seven. A 21-3 run than spanned nearly nine minutes to make the difference.

Capital showed resilience in the second half, trimming the Marietta lead to as few as eight points near the midway point and staying within. Michael Green (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) served as Capital's first star, putting out 24 points to lead the team. His free throws with 7:06 to go made Capital's deficit shrink to eight points, 62-54, and gave the Crusaders hope that a comeback was possible. Green also led Capital with three steals and added three rebounds.

Marietta featured a balanced attack with 10 players getting into the scoring column and eight of those scoring seven or more points. To Capital's credit, no Marietta started hit double figures after four entered the game averaging more than 10 points per game. Anthony Wallace led the Pioneers with 13 points off of the bench. Team leader A.J. Edwards scored just eight points and added seven rebounds.

Dixon and Minch finished with double-digit point totals, finishing with 14 and 17 points, respectively. Geise scored nine points off of the bench.

Capital will hit the road this Saturday when they play Heidelberg University in Tiffin. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.