By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Capital University Women's Basketball was taxed to hold to its lead over host Carnegie Mellon University, but did so successfully on Wednesday night. The Crusaders delivered the Tartans its first loss of the season, 57-53, and was led offensively by its core of young talent after three sported double-digit scoring performances at the Skibo Gymnasium.
Capital roared out to an 18-point lead, its largest of the game, when sophomore Regan Stonerock (Circleville, Ohio/Westfall) began a 15-0 scoring run with a pair of free throw makes after being fouled on Cap's first offensive possession of the second quarter. Capital then went on to make six out of its first seven field goals taken, all six in succession. Freshman Caroline Taphorn (Harrison, Ohio/McAuley) scored seven of the 15 points during that run, and Stonerock with six.
Using a pair of 3-point makes, multiple free throw hits, two Capital turnovers, and the Crusaders guns cooling off toward the end of the second, Carnegie Mellon went on a 12-0 run to end the first half and close the gap to 34-28.
With the help of Folan, Taphorn and Stonerock, the Crusaders shot better than 40 percent of the course of the first half and also caused 11 Carnegie Mellon turnovers, which turned into six Capital points.
Cassidy Bosch opened up the second half with a quick steal and layup. She was also fouled on the play and converted the ensuring free throw to build Cap's lead back up to nine, 37-28. The momentum began to change slowly as Capital found itself in foul trouble, committing four fouls in the opening minutes of the final frame. The Tartans took advantage of this and the fact that two of Cap's starters were forced to the bench due to foul trouble.
Carnegie Mellon, which received four votes in the first official top-25 poll of the season published by D3Hoops.com, turned an 11-point deficit into a one-point disadvantage in just three minutes. Katharine Higgins began to heat up on both ends of the floor as she scored all 10 points to cut into Capital's lead and collect a pair of rebounds to feed her own offense.
With the score 52-51, Taphorn took charge and hit a key jumped to create some space from the Tartans. Elle Folan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) then forced a timely turnover with a steal and set up junior Erin Risner's drive to the bucket on the other end of the floor to make for a five-point affair.
Makayla Filiere hit two free throws on the opposite end and the Tartans had another chance to tie the game, but Higgins was challenged on her move to the hoop by Risner and her shot flew wide.
Capital got the rebound and called timeout to advance the ball. They were forced to call another timeout with nine seconds remaining after the Tartans' defense nearly prevented them from inbounding the ball. CMU had not committed a foul throughout the entire fourth quarter but was forced to commit five quick fouls, which burned five seconds off the clock and caused two players to foul out, including Higgins. Stonerock went to the line for Cap and hit one of two to increase the Crusaders' lead to four and left just 2.1 seconds on the clock for CMU to work with, too little time to mount any sort of last ditch effort.
Taphorn had the first breakout game of her career after hitting 8-of-10 field goals, including two 3-pointers, for a total of 19 points. She also pulled down six rebounds, both acting as new career highs.
Stonerock and Folan each scored 11 points to join her in double digits. Stonerock also added seven boards and three steals.
Higgins led the Tartans with 15 points and nine rebounds, while her teammate Kylie Huffman posted a double-double behind 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Capital (2-2) will play in its Ohio Athletic Conference opener against defending regular season and tournament champion Ohio Northern University, which is ranked No. 15 in the country by D3Hoops.com. The Crusaders head to Ada, Ohio for a matchup against the Polar Bears on Saturday, Dec. 2. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.