By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – With finals complete the Capital University women's basketball team had its focus set to get its first win in Ohio Athletic Conference play. The Muskies of Muskingum University visit The Capital Center but the Crusaders' physical play and strong free throw shooting helped CU deliver a 63-56 loss to its guests. The Capital freshman class made a big statement by accounting for more than half of the Crusaders' points in the win.
Capital (3-3, 1-1 OAC) earned 12 more trips to the charity stripe over the course of the game and made eight more free throws. Cap made 18 of its 29 trips to the line in the fourth quarter, and 13 of its 24 points in the frame resulted.
Capital did not get to enjoy its final lead until the 3:28 mark of the fourth quarter when senior Annika Wachtman (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) made a pair of free throw to put CU up, 50-49. With a three-point lead in hand, freshman Carlie Hulette (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) hit a jumper from the right side to counter Muskingum's attempt to close the gap and fellow freshman Caroline Taphorn (Harrison, Ohio/McAuley) followed with a key defensive rebound and a two-point make on the other end out of a Cap timeout. With the lead at five, Capital rode its success at the charity stripe all the way to a 63-56 win.
After Cap's offense slowed down in the middle quarters, it showed its ability with 24 points in the fourth quarter, outdoing Muskingum by 11.
Capital trailed by as many as six points in the second half after surrendering a brief lead early in the third quarter and played from behind for a majority of the second half. The first half favored Capital after the Muskies and Crusaders went blow for blow early on. Wachtman hit a rare 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter from the right wing to give Cap a 22-17 lead before the horn sounded. CU's lead grew to seven when Elle Folan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) hit 2-of-3 free throws after she was fouled on a long-range attempt, but then Muskingum began to slowly chip away at the lead by taking advantage of a slow time for Cap's offense. The Muskies scored seven consecutive points to tie the game heading into the final four minutes of the second half. Folan, Wachtman and Torri Grasso helped keep the deficit to just two points heading into halftime with two points inside the last three minutes and change.
Key to Capital's offense was the bench play of Hulette, who scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. One of her six made field goals was from 3-point range. She also added two free throws, four rebounds and one steal to her line. All of serve as current career highs.
Taphorn ended the night with 12 points, all of which came in Capital's overpowering fourth quarter. Taphorn went 3-for-5, connected on 5-of-6 free throws and collected five rebounds in the fourth quarter alone.
Four Crusaders finished with 10 or more points including Taphorn, Hulette, Wachtman (15), and Folan (10). Wachtman was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and added five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block.
Sophomore Regan Stonerock led Capital on the boards with 10 rebounds while adding two assists and one steal.
Capital's freshman class accounted for 40 of Capital's 64, translating into 62.5 of its total offense.
Olivia Besancon led Muskingum (2-3, 1-1 OAC) with 14 points and seven rebounds while also adding three helpers. Emily Yeager chipped in 10 points and four boards off the bench before fouling out.
Capital now prepares for round one of its rivalry series with Otterbein University. The Cardinals (4-3, 1-1 OAC) and Crusaders will square up in The Capital Center on Saturday for a 3 p.m. tipoff.