By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Men's Basketball has been ranked in the D3hoops.com National Top 25 for each of the past three weeks and the No. 19 Crusaders will likely be shooting up those rankings this week after defeating No. 8 Marietta College on Thursday night. After beating the Pioneers by four points earlier in the year, the Crusaders imposed their will on Thursday en route to a 74-57 victory.
Marietta started the game on a nice offensive roll with 14 points in the first five minutes of the contest while Capital's offense sputtered to only four points in that span. At the 14:33 mark of the first half, senior guard Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) buried a triple to close the gap to 14-7 and a layup from Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) brought the Crusaders to within five. Marietta responded with another basket but Capital's offense had caught fire with Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) nailing a triple of his own to make the score 16-12.
After earning a defensive stop and then causing a turnover on Marietta's next two possessions, Ganiyu Yahaya (Abuja, Nigeria/Wesley Christian) slashed to the rim for a score that cut Capital's deficit to only two points. On Capital's next possession following a steal and a timeout, the Crusaders took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer from Gavin Wildermuth (Botkins, Ohio/Jackson Center). Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) extended the lead to 19-16 after grabbing an offensive rebound on Capital's next trip up the floor.
Marietta responded with five unanswered points to retake a 21-19 advantage but Capital returned the favor with another triple from Schreck to go up 22-21. Schreck's shot was the first of seven straight points for the Crusaders and Capital ended the half on a 19-11 run to take a 40-30 lead into the break. Yahaya alone scored seven of Capital's points during that stretch with a triple, a layup and two free throws. Schreck led all scorers with 10 first-half points while Yahaya added nine and Weingartner contributed eight.
Capital started the second half with an and-one from Cox to increase the lead to 13 points. Caleb Hoyng responded with a triple on the other end but Cox hit the Pioneers right back with another make in the post. Hoyng again responded with a basket of his own but on Capital's next offensive trip, Cox brought the house down with a huge dunk. After point guard Dan Auble (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) brought the ball up and handed it off to Schreck at the top of the key, Cox set a screen on the left baseline to free up Weingartner. As Weingartner received the ball, Cox dove to the rim and was all alone in the paint for Weingartner to give him the ball for the easy score.
The dunk gave the Crusaders a 47-35 advantage just three minutes into the period. After trading baskets over their next several possessions, Marietta reduced Capital's lead to single digits before Yahaya hit his second long-range jumper of the game with 13:28 to play to bump Capital ahead by 12.
The Crusaders continued to keep their feet on the gas over the remaining several minutes, never letting the Pioneers get within striking distance and increasing their lead to as many as 18 with just two minutes to play. The night's exclamation point came with 56 seconds remaining when after a made Marietta basket, Schreck led Hannah past Marietta's press with a deep pass into the open court. As Hannah sprinted down the right side of the court, Cox flanked him on his left with only one Pioneer left to defend both of them. As the defender stepped towards Hannah on the right, Hannah floated the ball up to Cox who slammed it home for the alley-oop, sending the Capital fans into a frenzy.
Cox finished the game with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds and Schreck scored 16. Hannah scored only five points but grabbed 10 boards and Weingartner scored 10.
The 57 points represented a season low for the Pioneers as Capital held Marietta to just 39.3 percent shooting from the floor and 6-of-21 shooting from three in one of Capital's best defensive performances of the season. The Crusaders themselves shot 45.3 percent from the floor. Capital held a 41-33 lead in rebounds and outscored Marietta 38-28 in the paint.
At 17-3 overall and 12-1 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, the Crusaders are now alone in first place in the OAC. Capital will travel to John Carroll University over the weekend looking to extend its current four-game winning streak to five. Tipoff in University Heights is scheduled for 1 p.m.