By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
MARIETTA, Ohio – After receiving votes in the latest d3hoops.com national poll, Capital University Men's Basketball proved that it belongs among the country's elite with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the No. 10 Marietta College Pioneers on Wednesday night, 82-78.
Coming into the game, the Crusaders and Pioneers were tied atop the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with matching 6-0 conference records but now Capital stands alone in the lead. The win was Capital's 11th in a row, tying the mark set by the 2008-09 Crusaders in that team's historic season.
Trailing 69-66 with just under six minutes to play in the game, Capital was running out of time to take control of what was a second half with numerous lead changes. The Crusaders got what they needed though with a 3-pointer from senior guard Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) that tied the game. The triple sparked a 7-0 run from the Crusaders after Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) and Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) made back-to-back buckets to put Capital ahead 73-69 with 4:22 left to play.
After the Pioneers called timeout, the team made a pair of free throws to temporarily close the gap but Schreck came right back up the court and buried a triple of his own to increase the lead to five. Jason Ellis answered with a three-ball of his own to reduce the deficit to only two points and then Caleb Hoyng tied the game at 76 with 2:47 left on the clock.
On Capital's next possession, Hoyng fouled Cox, sending the big man to the line for two shots. The senior converted both to put the Crusaders ahead again and two more made free throws from Dan Auble (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) with less than a minute remaining in the game increased Capital's lead to 80-76.
A basket by Keith Richardson with 25 seconds left again narrowed Capital's lead. Marietta then fouled Schreck who missed his first free throw but made the second. The Crusaders forced a missed shot by Marietta on the other end and Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) iced the game at the free throw line by making one of his two attempts.
Cox led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-7 shooting from the charity stripe. He also added seven rebounds. Schreck scored 18 points with four assists while Hannah finished with a line of 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and four assists. Weingartner also scored 14 points. With his 14 tonight, Weingartner is now just 27 points away from 1,000 in his Capital career.
As a team, Capital shot 60.8 percent from the floor compared to Marietta's 43.7 percent. Capital shot 9-of-19 from behind the arc. The game featured 18 ties and 34 lead changes.
In the first half, Capital jumped out to a 7-4 lead but after Marietta tied the game at 11 with 13:27 left in the half, Capital did not lead again until the 9:04 mark in the second half when the Crusaders went up 60-59. Capital always remained within striking distance though and Marietta's lead never grew larger than eight points. The Pioneers led 58-50 before a 10-1 run for the Crusaders regained the lead for Capital and the teams went back and forth from that point on.
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, the Crusaders are in the driver's seat in the OAC with a 7-0 conference record and are 12-2 overall. Capital will put its 11-game winning streak on the line at home on Saturday, Jan. 12 against John Carroll University in another tough conference showdown. Tipoff between the Crusaders and Blue Streaks is scheduled for 1 p.m. in The Capital Center Performance Arena.