By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite a valiant and furious comeback attempt at the end of the game, Capital University Men's Basketball wasn't able to get over the hump in its 86-84 loss to Ohio Northern University on Saturday afternoon in each team's Ohio Athletic Conference opener.
With two and a half minutes remaining in the game, Capital (2-4, 0-1 OAC) fell behind 81-70 after Ryan Bruns hit a three for the Polar Bears (3-2, 1-0). From that point, Capital outscored ONU 14-5 and nearly came away with the victory. Dan Auble (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) answered Bruns with a three of his own to make it an eight-point game and Brennan Czuchran (Rayland, Ohio/Buckeye Local) nailed a triple that cut ONU's lead to five. Following two Polar Bear free throws, Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) continued Capital's three-point barrage and connected from downtown to make it an 83-79 game. Ohio Northern converted 5-of-6 of their free throws down the stretch though to get to 86. Weingartner converted from deep again as the final buzzer sounded to make it an 86-84 game.
Weingartner scored a career-high 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the floor with three triples. He also tied for the team lead with three assists. Fifteen of Weingartner's points came in the second half. Sophomore forward Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) had a career day as well with a double-double of 14 points and a career-best 15 rebounds.
The first 12 minutes of the game featured eight lead changes as both offenses were able to find their rhythms early and the Polar Bears hit eight three-pointers in that span to keep the Crusaders from building any comfortable leads. Capital's driving game was working though and kept the Polar Bears on their toes. A three from Brandon Waugh put ONU up 30-28 with 8:32 left to play until halftime and the Crusaders never regained the lead.
The Polar Bears had four double-digit scorers, led by Nate Burger's 23. Burger was on fire in the first half with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and traded buckets with Weingartner in the opening few minutes of the contest. Burger also assisted on eight Polar Bear scores. Joey DiOrio scored 15 in the opening 20 minutes and 19 in the game. Bruns finished with 16 points and Daniel Donner added 10.
Capital had its most successful game from beyond the arc with 10 three-point makes but the Polar Bears connected on 15 shots from deep, including five each from Burger and DiOrio.
The Crusaders will look to end their current four-game skid when they travel to Muskingum University on Thursday, Dec. 7. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 8 p.m.