By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
SCRANTON, Pa. – Sunday afternoon's matchup between the Capital University Crusaders and the nationally-ranked Scranton University Royals felt more like a championship boxing match with the round-by-round blows being delivered at the John Long Center. Two big quarters for host Scranton led the sixth-ranked Royals to a 62-52 victory over the Crusaders on the final day of the Hilton-Poinsettia Tournament.
Each team could not have put up more different numbers than were logged in the opening two quarters. After the first quarter, the ending looked bleak for Cap had a redirection not taken place. As both teams headed into the locker room at halftime, Scranton had lost a 13-point lead and the teams were deadlocked heading into the third.
Despite taking much better care of the ball compared to its previous game, the Crusaders struggled early on the offensive end by hitting just 3-of-12 field goal attempts. Meanwhile, the Royals possessed the hot hand early when as a team they hit 8-of-13 (.615) led by Bridgette Mann's 4-for-4 effort off of the bench, which included three triples.
Scranton held a 23-10 lead when the second quarter began but the roles reversed when the Crusaders started finding a groove. Paced by senior Erin Risner (Canfield, Ohio/Canfield) and her 10 second-quarter points, Capital completely erased the gap that had been built in the first quarter. Sophomore Elle Folan (Cincinnati, Ohio/Ursuline) dropped in a pair of 3-pointers to account for eight of the team's 21 points in the frame. On the other end, the Royals went cold with just two field goals on 12 attempts and five turnovers. Cap outscored Scranton 21-8 to level the score before round three of the bout ensued.
Another role reversal took place coming out of the break. Cap was held to just two field goals this time while Scranton went 9-for-12 from the field including a trio of 3-pointers. The Crusaders' six turnovers took the wind from their sails and altogether led to a 21-5 quarter in the Royals' favor to build a 16-point deficit heading into the final frame.
Capital was not to be deterred from a fighting chance at victory. Unfortunately, Cap was able to just chip away at Scranton's lead. Only in the final minute did they bring the lead to single digits. CU's final two possessions ended in a turnover and a miss and despite outscoring the Royals in the quarter they fell short in the comeback effort.
Risner was named the team's most valuable player of the tournament following a game in which she posted a career-high 23 points against the Royals. The senior also had four steals and a team-high seven rebounds. She averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game during the Crusaders' stay at the tournament.
Folan finished the game with 18 points and five rebounds to serve as Capital's second double-digit scorer.
Mann led the Royals with 17 points, though 11 of those were scored in the first quarter. Emily Sheehan (14) and Sofia Recupero (10) also finished in double digits for Scranton.
This weekend's tournament featured three teams that came into the weekend with a combined record of 19-2. Ithaca College (7-2) entered the weekend having received votes in the most recent D3hoops.com coaches' poll, while Scranton, now 9-0, is ranked just outside the nation's top five with rising stock.
After winning its first six games, Capital now looks to break a three-game losing streak when they return to Ohio Athletic Conference action on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Capital (6-3, 3-1 OAC) will head southwest to play Wilmington College (5-4, 1-3 OAC) with tipoff from Fred Raizk Arena to take place at 7 p.m.