Another Strong Finish Guides Crusaders Past Muskies

* photo credit: Joe Maiorana
* photo credit: Joe Maiorana

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After three quarters where the Crusaders and Muskies of Muskingum University were within arm's length of one another, the Capital University women's basketball team made a huge push to run away with a 71-53 win on Wednesday night. The nationally-ranked Crusaders have now won three straight and possess an 18-4 overall, and 11-4 conference record.

Despite the Muskies being held to 34 percent or lower shooting in each of the first three quarters, Muskingum (5-16, 1-13 OAC) held a slim two-point lead heading into the final 2:49 of the third quarter. However, that awoke the giant as No. 20/21 Capital (18-4, 11-4 OAC) rattled off nine points to end the frame. Senior Simonne Gage (Dayton, Ohio) hit an uncharacteristic 3-pointer to reclaim the lead and was followed by three different point scorers to close out the quarter.

The run extended to the other side of the break and a streak of 11 unanswered points was continued by senior Jenna Erwin (Springfield, Ohio) on an easy putback. With a 41-32 advantage, Capital had the lead necessary to guide it to victory, but a nine-point buffer was not enough.

Capital outscored the Muskies 17-8 in the fourth quarter, which was aided by eight Muskingum turnovers. The Purple and White were responsible for six steals, keeping their opponent's offense out of rhythm. Erwin scored seven of those 17 points. The defense held Muskingum to just 3-of-9 from the field and just 1-of-5 from 3-point range to eliminate any chance of a comeback.

The Crusaders have now held their opponents to fewer than 60 points in each of the last four games and all but one game since the turn of the New Year. The defense held Muskingum to just 30 percent shooting from field goal range and forced 24 Muskies turnovers.

Nina Napolitano (Akron, Ohio) quietly put forth a game-high 17 points and was one of three Crusaders with 10 or more points. Napolitano also pulled down six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocked shots.

Nina Napolitano, Sr., G
postgame interview 

Joining the senior in double figures were Gage (13) and Erwin (16). Gage matched Napolitano in assists and steals. Senior Kristen Thompson (Cincinnati, Ohio) led Capital with seven rebounds to couple with her seven points. Annika Wachtman (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) scored eight points off of the bench.

Capital looks to continue its three-game winning streak heading into a big rivalry game against Otterbein University, this Saturday. They will play the backend of a basketball doubleheader set to begin at 2 p.m. The women are scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. from inside The Capital Center.

Join the festivities early to be able to grab your Capital freebies and take a commemorative photo inside a picture booth before the game. Foam basketball heads will available to the first 100 students and special player big-head cutouts will be passed out to fans (until supplies last). Fans are strongly encouraged to wear purple as part of its PURPLE OUT theme during #BeatTheBein Week.