Cap Advances with Steady Dose of Down Low ‘O’ Leads to 65-64 Win

Pictured: Erin Risner (credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Pictured: Erin Risner (credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Capital University Women's Basketball invaded The Rike Center and came away with another win over its rival, Otterbein University. Otterbein made it interesting at the end with a big offensive push, but the Purple and White did just enough to come away with a 65-64 victory. Eighth-seeded Cap will move on to play fourth-seeded Marietta in the quarter-final round of the Ohio Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament, Tuesday night.

With a healthy dose of down-low offense, Capital built up a lead that rose to as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. Otterbein struggled shooting the three-ball early in the contest but made the game interesting in the fourth quarter when the shots started falling, and they nearly erased Capital's lead. A major swing occurred when Otterbein converted an unconventional five-point play with 2:32 remaining in the game when Dani Kissel made a 3-point shot. While the shot was in the air Ali Cartnal was fouled away from the play, resulting in two free throw shots being given to the hosts. Both were made and cut the lead to eight, 61-53.

Late turnovers by Capital gave Otterbein a second chance to claim the game, but the defense did just enough to put pressure on Kissel, who missed a jumper with 32 seconds remaining when down by just three points. With the score 62-59, Capital relied on its free throw shooting to cling on to the win. Junior guard Annika Wachtman (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) hit three of four down the stretch, which were critical considering Cartnal's made 3-pointer on the other end to make for a one-point game. Once both sides swapped free throws, 3.4 seconds remained on the clock. Otterbein fouled senior Colleen Fondessy (Fostoria, Ohio/St. Wendelin) to put her at the line but missed both free throws. However, with just one second left on the clock, the last-second heave by Kissel was off the mark and Capital walked out of the arena with a 65-64 win.

Capital's first three quarters of play were highly successful as they shot better than 45 percent from the field in each stanza and committed just five combined turnovers. Sophomore forward Erin Risner (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) came off of the bench and dominated both ends of the floor, posting 11 of her 19 points in the second quarter. While the final three minutes of the second quarter came and went with little scoring, Capital had already shot its way to a nine-point halftime lead and had no intention of stopping.

Capital's low-post attack which included the likes of junior Chelsea Pla, Sarah Junker, Fondessy and Risner, the Crusaders were able to beat out the Cardinals in the paint, 28-22, with many more coming just off the edges. Otterbein had its chances with clean looks, but shot just 25.8 percent in the first half. The Cardinals attempted to get their 3-point game working, but went just 2-for-9 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes. They used those misses to take a wide advantage on the boards, but could not clean up on second-chance opportunities on multiple occasions.

Toward the latter half of the second quarter and coming out of the half, Otterbein began to pack in the defense to thwart the close-range offensive attack by Capital. The Crusaders responded by getting its guards to bounce out and make plays with the mid-range game. In the third, Meredith Ovies and Wachtman combined to go 3-for-4 from the field and Fondessy went 2-for-3, well. The trio accounted for 12 of the 19 points scored by Cap in the quarter, and for the first time Cap held a vast rebounding advantage, 12-6. That set the table for the fourth quarter excitement which has both sets of fans on its feet at The Rike Center before Capital inevitably pulled out the victory.

Wachtman ended the game with 19 points, nine of those coming from the charity stripe, and the remainder coming on a solid shooting night. The junior went 5-for-7 from the field and added nine rebounds to her line.

Risner tied a career high with 19 points in the game while also adding six rebounds and two helpers. Other notable Capital performers included Regan Stonerock's nine points, seven coming at free throw line. As a team, Cap shot 23-for-32 (.719) from the charity stripe.

Otterbein came into the tournament as the number five seed, but sees its season come to a close with an overall record of 11-15. Kissel finished as their leading scorer with 15 points, and was joined in double figures by Cartnal (13) and Abbie Scholz (10).

Capital (11-15) will move on to the second round of the OAC Tournament, and will travel to Marietta, Ohio to take on the Pioneers of Marietta College on Tuesday night. The Pioneers are this year's fourth seed behind a 15-10 overall and 9-9 OAC record. Tipoff will take place at 6 p.m. from inside Ban Johnson Arena.

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