Crusaders Return to Form with Win Against Cardinals

photo credit: Eric George
photo credit: Eric George

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – As happens in most rivalries games, records were disregarded and a back-and-forth affair was witnessed between the Capital University and Otterbein University women's basketball teams. One final push in the fourth quarter tilted the scales enough to award Capital its seventh victory of the season and second in Ohio Athletic Conference play. The Crusaders defeated the Cardinals, 70-61, inside the Rike Center on Saturday afternoon.

Capital (7-2, 2-2 OAC) twice held a 10-point advantage over the Cardinals, but Otterbein (5-5, 1-4 OAC) clawed back to make for a one-point game heading into the final 1:41 of the game. After Abby Miduri hit one of Otterbein's five 3-pointers, Capital turned it up one last time to break away for good. Senior guard Shelby Sigman (Bellbrook, Ohio) responded with a trey with 49 seconds to go, inducing a free throw battle. Capital not only made their freebies, but also caused a turnover and broke away for a Colleen Fondessy basket to clinch the contest.

The first quarter began slowly with both teams combining for 11 points near the midway point of the stanza. The final five minutes showed much more energy and quicker transitions on both sides. Capital took a 17-13 lead out of the quarter, fueled by six points and a pair of steals from sophomore guard Annika Watchman (Upper Arlington, Ohio).

The Crusaders had some offensive struggles in the second quarter, ending the half shooting just 29 percent from the field. Kristen Thompson (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored four of her seven first-half points and had 10 rebounds before the turn of second quarter. Otterbein recovered with a couple of 3-pointers to close the gap, but still trailed the Crusaders 29-28 heading into halftime.

Capital began the third quarter on a 10-2 run to bulk their lead up, 39-30. With three points out of the gate, Thompson achieved her fourth double-double of the season less than three minutes into the start of the period. Otterbein committed three turnovers before the six-minute mark of the third and missed two of its three field goal attempts. The Crusaders built as high as a nine-point lead, but Otterbein kept chipping away. With a 3-pointer on their final possession, the Cardinals created a four-point gap in favor of Capital heading into the fourth quarter.

Senior forward Kristen Thompson
with some postgame thoughts

Senior Nina Napolitano (Akron, Ohio) answered with a big 3-point make in the near-side corner to begin the fourth quarter. That was followed by Sigman driving up the baseline for a turnaround layup. Capital forced a pair of Otterbein turnover in the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter, to build a 10-point advantage, 56-46. It was the first of two 10-point disadvantages Otterbein overcame heading into the final minutes' dramatics.

Thompson and fellow senior Jenna Erwin (Springfield, Ohio) each ended with a team-high 14 points as the pair combined to go 10-for-27 from the field. Thompson also ended with a career-high 19 rebounds, and was one of three Crusaders with three assists. Her performance led Capital to outrebound the Cardinals, 49-40.

Capital had no issues causing and taking advantage of a bevy of Otterbein miscues. The Cardinals committed 20 turnovers, leading to 27 Capital points.

The win salvages a three-game road trip in which the Crusaders lost two conference games. They will now play their next three at home, including two games in back-to-back days when Capital hosts the Marriott-Columbus Airport Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29-30. The Crusaders' next contest will be next Tuesday, Jan. 22, versus John Carroll University.