By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
ADA, Ohio – All season long Capital University Men's Basketball has been a team that fights and refuses to go away quietly. That was no different on Tuesday night when, despite falling behind early, the Crusaders battled to close the gap before ultimately bowing out of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament with an 81-60 loss.
ONU came out of the gates on fire and led by as many as 18 in the first half. Capital eventually found its rhythm though and flipped the switch with a four and a half minutes until the halftime break, pulling closer and closer.
Trailing 33-15, junior Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) nailed a three-pointer, Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) converted a free throw and freshman John Burnham connected on a three of his own to cap off a 7-0 run. The two sides traded baskets on the next few possessions but reduced the deficit to eight after Hannah hit a triple and Weingartner knocked down two free throws. Capital went into the halftime break trailing 40-33.
Capital continued to inch closer coming out of the break when Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) gathered in an offensive rebound and scored, cutting the deficit to only five. The Polar Bears were able to answer each Capital made shot until the 16:37 mark when an Austin Scheck layup made it a 44-41 game, the closest Capital had been since the Crusaders trailed 5-3 with 17:28 in the first half.
ONU answered with a triple but Capital would not back down and Schreck kept Capital within four after making two free throws. Weingartner made a triple with 12:15 left in the game that made it a 51-47 Polar Bear lead. Switching to a zone defense helped the Crusaders slow down the ONU offense but the Polar Bears eventually figured out how to overcome it.
The Polar Bears outscored Capital 30-13 the rest of the game. After building up a 10-point lead at 64-54 with 5 minutes left to play, ONU finished the game on a 17-6 run.
The Polar Bears were led in scoring by Nate Burger and Joey DiOrio with 19 points each. Weingartner led Capital with 15 points although 13 of those came in the first half. Schreck picked up some of the load with 10 second-half points and finished with 13 and seven rebounds.
As a team, Capital committed 17 turnovers compared to just nine for ONU. Capital was also only able to convert on six of its 24 attempts from behind the arc. Ohio Northern made 10-of-19 three-pointers.
With the loss, Capital bows out of the OAC Tournament and finishes the season with a 12-14 overall record and 8-10 mark in the conference.