By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Capital University Women's Basketball scored its fourth straight win on Saturday afternoon after defeating the University of Mount Union, 67-58, at the McPhearson Athletic and Academic Center (MAAC). A strong start by the CU offense fueled the win, and improves its record to 12-9 overall, 8-6 in Ohio Athletic Conference play.
Freshman guard Caroline Taphorn (Harrison, Ohio/McAuley) helped get Capital off to a strong start by scoring 12 of her game-high 18 points over the course of the first half. Even as the offense scored nearly 66 percent of its total points in the first two quarters, it was the defense that allowed the Crusaders to create early separation. Capital induced eight Mount Union turnovers in the first quarter, allowing them to end the period on a 6-0 spurt. Sophomore Cassidy Bosch was responsible for the last four points of the frame. Cap ended the opening period with a healthy eight-point lead, 15-7.
Annika Wachtman (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) helped continue what would end as an 11-0 run by scoring the first five points of the second quarter. The senior nailed a 3-pointer and came back with a jumper on Cap's next possession that stemmed from another Mount Union turnover. The lead grew to as many as 17 later in the frame when Elle Folan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) hit one of three Capital second-quarter triples. The Purple Raiders (.692) attempted to keep pace and did shoot at a higher clip than Capital (.625) in the quarter, but six more turnovers took away three additional scoring chances from the hosts, leading to Cap adding nine to its overall lead. Impressively, Capital committed just one foul and did not allow Mount Union to get to the charity stripe while it nailed all six of its attempts.
Capital's 17-point halftime lead was needed as the Purple Raiders began to chip away at the Crusaders as its shooting percentages began to dip. While the hosts gained ground in the third quarter, Capital's defense answered the call and did not allow the Purple Raiders to get its offense running smoothly in the final 10 minutes. Up 13 points, Capital kept the Mount offense at bay allowing them to hit on just 5-of-14 (.357) field goals and just 3-of-10 3-point chances. Capital did its job at the free-throw line with another flawless quarter (8-8) to seal it at the end. Mount Union never got any closer than nine points and Capital held on for a 67-58 victory, its fourth win in a row.
Four Crusaders found themselves in double digits at the end of the game including Taphorn (18), Wachtman (11), Erin Risner (12), and Carlie Hulette (12) off the bench. Wachtman also recorded a team-high six rebounds plus two of the team's 12 steals. Risner and Regan Stonerock each tallied three steals to aid the defense.
Tori Rappach served as Mount Union's leading scorer behind a career-high 15 points. Jaime Sanborn had the team's healthiest line behind 14 points, six rebounds and one assist. She went 7-for-9 from the field. The Purple Raiders were stymied by 22 team turnovers, which led to 23 Capital points.
Just when Capital thought it could not get much better at the free-throw line, they proved themselves wrong by missing just one freebie. The team went 19-for-20, good for a 95 percent success rate, which complimented its .431 field goal percentage well.
The win adds to Capital's current winning streak, which is also its longest of the season. The Crusaders climbed the ladder in the Ohio Athletic Conference team standings, bringing them into a tie for fourth place with Baldwin Wallace University (12-9, 8-6) and Mount Union (11-10, 8-6). All three teams now sit one game back of third place Otterbein University (13-8, 9-5 OAC) with four regular season games left to play. The Crusaders are now a lock to make an appearance in the upcoming OAC Women's Basketball Tournament.
Capital's next game takes them on the road to nationally-ranked Marietta College on Wednesday night. The Pioneers, currently ranked 23rd by D3Hoops.com but not in the coaches' poll, will host the Crusaders and tip off at 7:30 p.m.