By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2017-18 Ohio Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament will begin on Tuesday night under its newly introduced format, and Capital University will serve as the No. 6 seed. The University of Mount Union has been lined up as its round one opponent, and the two shades of purple will meet up inside the MAAC in Alliance, Ohio for the right to continue on in the tournament.
Tuesday, February 17, 2018 | 7:30 p.m. | The MAAC (Alliance, Ohio)
HOW WE GOT HERE
Capital (13-12, 9-9 OAC) has had an up-and-down season in which alternating wins and streaks of both kinds can be found in this year's resume. In their last five games, Capital has won two and lost three, including a nine-point win on the road against Mount Union. The month of February has provided some stout competition with three of their five opponents having finished ahead of them in the OAC standings. Their most recent contest was a down-to-the-wire, one-point overtime loss on the road versus John Carroll University, 72-71.
Mount Union (15-10, 12-6 OAC) is riding a four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last eight dating back to Jan. 24. They defeated two teams that did not advance to the dance and most recently beating teams that comprise the four and five seeds in the tournament. It took an overtime session for the Purple Raiders to defeat Muskingum University, 58-53, but then rattled off a pair of double-digit wins against Heidelberg and Baldwin Wallace. The Purple Raiders defeated then nationally-ranked Marietta College in decisive fashion, 82-60, in that successful run. Their lone loss over the last eight games came against Capital inside the MAAC back on Feb. 3.
THE LAST TIME WE MET
The Feb. 3 meeting between Capital and Mount Union in Columbus went the Crusaders' way after a strong first half helped fuel a 67-58 win on the road. Caroline Taphorn scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half, and eight Mount Union turnovers helped Capital end the period on a 6-0 run for an early lead. Capital took a 17-point lead into halftime after CU outscored Mount Union 29-20 in the second. Mount Union then started turning their fortunes around by outscoring Cap in each of the next two quarters but could not make up enough ground to overcome the Crusaders. Both teams shot well though Mount Union pulled away with a higher shooting success rate, but its turnovers turned out to be a major factor in the loss. Capital played with a short bench that day with just two players off the bench seeing action, though Carlie Hullete made the most of her time, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes.
Their first meeting at The Capital Center on Jan. 13 was a closer affair, but Capital lost a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. Mount Union outscored Cap 12-5 in the final frame for the 58-55 win. All five of Cap's points came from the free-throw line. Hulette again made noise with a team-high 15 points off the bench, and Regan Stonerock ruled the board with 15 rebounds to compliment her eight points. Jamie Sanborn led all scorers with 17 points in that game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
After two rough games in which she totaled two points and went 1-for-13 from the field, freshman guard Caroline Taphorn (Harrison, Ohio/McAuley) showed just what she is capable of in the her last game. She scored a new career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. She has had mixed success against Mount Union in her first season. She was held scoreless in their first meeting, but then erupted for 18 in their February win.
Up until their last game, junior forward Erin Risner (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) has scored 10 or more in six straight games. She and Elle Folan lead the team in points this season with 254 (11.0 ppg). Let's also not forget about Hulette, who has scored 15 and 12 points in her two games versus the Purple Raiders this season, and scored 13 plus three steals in their recent loss.
Three of Mount Union's five starters score in double figures, accounting for the team's 69.4 points per game. Guard Rachel Tinkey leads the pack with 13.5 points per game and also grabs 5.4 rebounds per contest. Forward Jamie Sanborn leads the team in rebounds per game (5.9) and couples that with 11.3 points per contest. Rounding out the trio is guard Casey Morrissette who averages 10.6 points and 2.8 assists per game. Guard Anna Alkire runs the offense behind her 3.7 assists per game.
In two games against the Crusaders, Sanborn has scored double digits in both contests. In their first meeting, a 58-55 win, she scored 17 points and notched 16 rebounds. She came back with 14 points and hit 7-of-9 shot attempts in their loss earlier this month.
KEY STATS TO WATCH (overall, OAC)
Points per game: Mount Union, 3rd (69.4) -- Capital, 9th (61.0)
Rebounds per game: Mount Union, 4th (41.3) -- Capital, 9th (35.7)
3-point percentage: Mount Union, 4th (.328) -- Capital, 3rd (.345)
Field goal percentage: Mount Union, 4th (.414) -- Capital, 5th (.406)
Free throw percentage: Mount Union, 9th (.678) -- Capital, 6th (.705)
Turnovers per game: Mount Union, 4th (15.1) -- Capital, 6th (16.2)
WHAT LIES AHEAD
With the new women's basketball tournament format, the winner of the Mount Union/Capital matchup will go on to play the winner of the No. 2 Marietta College vs. No. 7 John Carroll game. That game will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21 at a time to be determined later. The game will be played on the higher seed's home court, so if Capital and John Carroll both win, the Crusaders will open the doors of The Capital Center to the Blue Streaks. If Marietta defeats JCU, the Pioneers will host, regardless.
TOURNAMENT ADMISSION PRICES
Non-OAC student: $3
Senior (62+): $6
OAC Student: free with a valid college ID
OAC parent passes not accepted
OAC lifetime passes accepted