UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – The nationally-ranked Capital University women's basketball team moved into sole possession of second place in the Ohio Athletic Conference following its road win on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders went to the free throw line 24 times in the fourth quarter alone, giving them every opportunity to pull away for a 59-48 victory over the Blue Streaks at the DeCarlo Center.
Capital (17-4, 10-4 OAC) took a mere one-point lead into the fourth quarter before inducing a free-throw shooting competition with tough play on the inside. John Carroll (11-10, 6-8 OAC) committed 16 personal fouls in the final stanza, which sent Capital to the charity stripe 24 times. The Crusaders connected on 16 of those attempts while shooting 50 percent (5-10) from the field to help them break away. Senior Jenna Erwin (Springfield) went 9-for-13, alone, and hit a two-pointer for 11 fourth-quarter points.
The Crusaders built on its 33-32 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and began their breakaway after Erwin converted a nontraditional three-point play at the 7:54 mark. Senior Kristen Thompson (Cincinnati, Ohio) came down the floor after a JCU miss and hit her own jumper, and then Blue Streak fouls following two Capital defensive rebounds put Erwin on the free throw line for an additional four points. Capital then held a seven-point lead, 46-39, with 5:02 remaining in the game. Simonne Gage (Dayton, Ohio) hit CU's last field goal with 2:09 remaining, and its final 11 points came from the stripe.
Conversely, John Carroll only attempted six free throws down the stretch, hitting on two. They went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc and committed three turnovers, allowing Capital to separate once and for all.
Erwin shared the game-high for points scored with John Carroll's Sarah Cairnie, both finishing with 17 points. Cairnie went 7-for-13 from field goal range and added seven rebounds. Erwin recorded her second double-double of the year, coupling her offensive output with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Neither team shot well from distance, combining for a 1-for-25 mark between them. John Carroll did not register a 3-point make on 15 attempts and shot 31.3 percent, overall. Capital's defense limited JCU standout Katlyn Spahar to just six points on 3-of-17 shooting, though she did collect nine rebounds.
Additional notable performances on Capital's end included Gage's eight points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Senior Nina Napolitano (Akron, Ohio) hit for 15 points off of the bench and shot 50 percent (5-10) from field goal range.
Capital has solidified its place in the upcoming OAC Women's Basketball Tournament and now looks to escalate in the tournament seeding with four regular season games to go. With two straight losses by Baldwin Wallace University, Capital moves into sole possession of the No. 2 seed. The Crusaders are three games back of Ohio Northern University (18-3, 13-1), who is currently the top seed.
Three of Capital's final four games are at home, including its next game on Wednesday, Feb. 10 versus Muskingum University. The Muskies and Crusaders will tip off at 7:30 p.m. from inside The Capital Center.