By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Against a rival, sometimes all you need is one play to turn everything around. Trailing by nine in the first half, Capital University Men's Basketball got that one play that sparked the team's offense and powered the Crusaders to an 85-74 victory over the winless Otterbein University Cardinals (0-16, 0-10 Ohio Athletic Conference).
With three and a half minutes left in the first half and Capital trailing 36-27, Otterbein's Archie Bradley stole the ball from junior guard Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) in the post and began racing towards Capital's basket. Hannah immediately sprang after Bradley, matching him stride for stride down the court. As Bradley went up for a layup on the left side of the basket, Hannah rose and spiked Bradley's attempt off the backboard, sending the Cap faithful into a frenzy.
Hannah responded by hitting two free throws on Capital's next possession and back-to-back triples from John Burnham (Toledo, Ohio / St. Francis) and Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio / Centerville) made it a one-point game. After Otterbein was called for a technical foul, Hannah again nailed two from the charity stripe to cap off a 10-0 run for the Crusaders. Otterbein's Gabe Watson responded with a triple of his own to give the Cardinals a 40-39 lead but with mere seconds left until halftime, Weingartner let a three-pointer fly from the left wing that found the bottom of the net just before the buzzer sounded, sending the Crusaders into halftime with a 40-39 lead. The Crusaders did not trail for the rest of the game.
After the break, Capital continued its offensive dominance, shooting better than 58 percent from the field in the second half. And with the amped-up offensive effort came a tenacious defense that held Otterbein to 37.9 percent shooting from the floor over the final 20 minutes, including 2-of-9 from deep.
The Crusaders put an exclamation point on the game with 10:40 left in the game, up 62-48. As an Otterbein player tried to cross through the paint, Cameron Caldwell (Westerville, Ohio Westerville South) swiped at the ball to knock it loose and dove on the floor to recover the loose ball. After gathering the ball, Caldwell passed to Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky. Dixie Heights), who pushed it ahead to Hannah on the fast break. Hannah then dumped the ball off to Ganiyu Yahaya (Abuja, Nigeria / Wesley Christian) who coasted down the paint and slammed it home with the left hand, again sending the fans into a fever state. The dunk ended a 24-9 run and the Crusaders cruised the rest of the way.
Weingartner led all scorers with 22 points and was 6-of-9 from behind the arc. Hannah stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block. Corey Howard led Otterbein with 14 points off of the Cardinal bench.
As a team, Capital shot 52.9 percent from the field and 56.3 percent from deep. The Crusaders also outrebounded Otterbein 37-30.
Capital (8-9, 4-6 OAC) will host Muskingum University on Wednesday night in another OAC matchup in the Capital Center. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.