Key Plays Down the Stretch Helps Cap Outlast Musky, 77-73

Pictured: Annika Wachtman (credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Pictured: Annika Wachtman (credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – ­The Capital University and Muskingum University women's basketball teams locked horns inside The Capital Center on Wednesday night, and true to OAC form the contest went down to the wire. A key defensive play, clutch free throw shooting, and a consistent offensive output helped Capital win its third straight game with a 77-73 victory over the Muskies on the team's Paint It Pink night.

Each team erased multiple deficits over the course of the game, and the back-and-forth style of play remained through the fourth quarter. Capital entered the fourth quarter down by a single point, but its offense matched and surpassed what Muskingum brought to the table. Down 63-61, sophomore Sarah Junker tied it up before junior Annika Wachtman (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) helped Cap regain the lead. With 6:17 to go, Wachtman added some defense to her career offensive night with a steal and fastbreak layup in transition to put Cap up 69-65 with 3:53 to go.

A small lull in offensive production allowed Muskingum to retake the lead, but not before senior forward Colleen Fondessy (Fostoria, Ohio/St. Wendelin) got the crowd to its feet with a big block below the basket on Caitlyn Smith. Smith eventually scored the go-ahead bucket to put the Muskies up by one, 72-71, with 30 seconds to go but the guests got into foul trouble late in the game to allow Capital the chance to regain the lead and pull away for the win.

After Smith turned a Capital miss into three-point play by sinking a bucket whilst being fouled, Alexandra Carson hacked Wachtman after a quick drive to the bucket with 25 seconds to go. Wachtman made two of what would be six straight free throws down the stretch, these tying the game at 73 points. Wachtman did it on the defensive end again, collecting a key rebound following another Musky miss on its next possession. That led directly to Mallory Taylor fouling Wachtman while trying to advance the ball up the court, placing her on the free throw line again. After two more makes at the charity stripe, Muskingum failed to connect on its next possession out of a timeout and put Wachtman on the free throw line again in one last act of desperation. Wachtman finished her perfect day at the line, hitting her 11th and 12th freebies to seal the win for Capital, 77-73.

Wachtman finished the night with 22 points to set a new career high scoring, and tallied her first career double-double after also setting a new personal best with 10 rebounds. To complete her career day, she posted six assists and three steals, as well.

Three Capital starters finished with 10 or more points. Joining Wachtman was junior Meredith Ovies (Franklin, Tenn./Franklin) with 10 points and sophomore Emily Ondo (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler Area) who posted a career-high 19 points.

Muskingum stayed alive in the game by holding a plus-10 rebounding advantage over Capital, leading to an 18-6 second-chance point discrepancy. The Crusaders overcame that by outshooting the Muskies, coming just short of 40 percent from field goal range. Muskingum finished at just 31.3 percent and was held to 5-of-25 from distance. Capital also forced 17 Muskingum turnovers, leading to 28 points.

Capital has now won three straight games and has posted back-to-back 70-plus point performances. They reset a season high for points scored in a game with 77.

The Purple and White traded in their team colors for one game, donning pink on pink uniforms to support the fight against breast cancer and raise awareness for the ongoing battle.

Cap will get ready to hit the road once again with a trip to Ada, Ohio to take on nationally-ranked and undefeated Ohio Northern University. Tipoff against the Polar Bears is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.