By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
ALBION, Mich. – Capital University Men's Basketball earned its first victory of the 2018-19 season on Saturday with a hard-fought, gutty 81-79 win over Trine University (Ind.) at Albion College. The Crusaders got off to a hot start and held a 20-point first-half lead but the Thunder refused to go away and eventually took a couple late leads before Capital closed it out.
The Crusaders began the game on a 9-0 run before Trine called a timeout. The break did nothing to stop the Capital scoring though as Capital increased the lead to 13-0 before Trine scored its first basket at the 16:06 mark. Capital increased its lead to 26-6 at the 12:46 mark.
Senior Caleb Cox led Capital's early run with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with two rebounds and an assist and senior guard Joey Weingartner caught the hot hand and scored 10 of Capital's first 26 points.
Trine was able to close the gap some over the remainder of the half but the Crusaders took a 42-30 lead into the halftime break. Cox led Capital with 14 first-half points on 7-of-7 shooting and Weingartner scored 13 in the opening 20 minutes.
Trine cut Capital's lead to 46-44 after beginning the second half on a 14-4 run over the first six minutes of the period and then tied the game at 46 with 14:16 left in the game. The two teams traded baskets for the next several minutes with the Crusaders striking first and building up a few small leads.
Trine tied the game again at 61 with seven and a half minutes left in the game but Will Hannah nailed two free throws to give Capital the lead back. A layup from Maurice Hunter again knotted the score. The Thunder took its first lead of the game with 5:18 left to play after a Bryce Williams free throw put Trine up 66-65.
Weingartner wrestled the lead back after a pass from Cox set the guard up with a shot at the rim but Myles Copeland nailed a jumper that put Trine ahead 68-67. Pete Smith hit a 3-pointer to grow the lead to four but Austin Schreck got all three points back on Capital's next possession with the assist to Hannah.
The Crusaders then kicked it into gear with seven unanswered points to take a 77-71 lead. Layups from Cox and Cameron Caldwell sandwiched a Weingartner long-range make with just two minutes to play.
Trine closed the gap to 77-75 with 23 seconds in the game before Schreck was sent to the line. The senior calmly hit both free throws but another triple from Smith made it a one-point game again with only seven seconds left. Another intentional foul by Trine gave Hannah the chance to add two points to Capital's total and the senior also hit both tries from the line. The Crusaders then fouled Maurice Scott who converted his first free throw but missed the second and time expired.
Weingartner led Capital with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Cox made 11-of-13 shots for 22 points and he pulled down right rebounds. Smith led Trine with 22 points.
As a team, Capital shot 32-of-62 from the floor and outrebounded the Thunder 32-27, including an 11-5 advantage in offensive boards.
The Crusaders will play Wittenberg University next on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Ohio Wesleyan University in the first game of the Ohio Athletic Conference/North Coast Athletic Conference Challenge. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.