By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – On Saturday night, the Capital University men's basketball team had its NCAA Tournament run come to an end. The Crusaders held a lead midway through the second half and battled host Augustana College to the bitter end, but eventually fell to the Vikings, 85-79.
Capital's loss in the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament brings its season to an end with an overall record of 21-8. Augustana College, ranked third in the country, improves to 26-3 overall and will move on to the Round of 16.
The Capital senior class accounted for 58 of the team's 79 points, led by Austin Schreck's 16 points. Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) also added a team-high nine rebounds.
His classmates in the starting lineup all posted more than 10 points, each. Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) put up 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in his final game.
Joey Weingartner (Circleville, Ohio/Circleville) went 4-for-10 from outside and finished the night with 14 points.
Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) went 6-of-8 from field goal range and finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
Cap found itself down by eight early but used a barrage of 3-pointers to level the score and take the lead near the midway point of the first half. Ganiyu Yahaya (Abuja, Nigeria/Wesley Christian (Ky.)) kicked off the run with a three at the top of the arc and after a scoreless drought by both teams that lasted nearly two minutes, Weingartner broke it up with a game-tying 3-pointer. Augustana retook the lead temporarily but Schreck nailed a triple of his own, making for three consecutive 3-point field goals by the Crusaders to take the lead, 18-17, with 9:58 to go in the opening half.
The Crusaders continued to attack the Augustana post players and chipped away at its interior defense using a mix of drives to the bucket and short to mid-range jumpers to spread the floor. Another short burst by the Crusaders landed them a lead they would take into halftime. Yahaya tapped the ball free from Augustana's Jack Jelen and took it the rest of the way, uncontested, for the slam and a 31-30 lead. It was the second of five straight made field goals by Cap heading into the final minute of play. Weingartner added an exclamation point to the end of the first half when with two seconds on the clock he moved the ball past center court and heaved up a long-range shot more than 12 feet off the 3-point line that landed on target as the horn sounded. That shot put Cap up 41-35 heading into halftime.
The lead was short lived after the Vikings came out of the break with two quick makes to make for a one-point game. However, the momentum shifted back into Capital's court when tied at 46, Cox began an eight-point run that was supported by junior Dan Auble and Will Hannah. Together, the trio quieted the crowd and took a 54-46 lead with 13 minutes to play.
The Vikings made a bold run with its 3-point shooting when Brett Benning, Nolan Ebel and Pierson Wofford responded with triples of their own to retake the lead, 55-54. A fourth trey helped them regain the lead in what began to turn into a back-and-forth affair as both teams crossed the midway point of the second half.
It was Wofford's three-point play, accomplished the hard way, that signaled the turning point of the game. After making a layup, getting fouled and converting the free throw, Augustana rolled out an 8-0 run to go up 68-61 with 6:10 remaining. Weingartner responded with his fourth and final 3-pointer on a pop-out shot on the right wing and Hannah followed with another trey in response to a Viking bucket, but at 72-69 with 3:49 remaining it was the closest Capital would get to Augustana for the duration. Wofford's 3-pointer with 2:13 to go to make for an eight-point game signaled the beginning of the end of Cap's tournament stay.
Augustana was led by Ebel's 27 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line. Wofford followed with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting, three assists and two blocks. Four of Augustana's five starters finished in double figures and only seven points came from its bench.
The Vikings will now go on to play Wheaton College for a third time this season after the Thunder defeated The College of Wooster in the second round. The rest of the sectional consists of Oswego State University and Marietta College.