By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Women's Basketball narrowly edged out a tree-point win over the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears on Friday night, 68-65, thanks to clutch play down the stretch on both offense and defense. The Crusaders led by as many as 12 in the contest but ONU was able to claw back into the game and make things interesting late.
Ohio Northern scored the first basket of the contest but a quick 7-0 run by the Crusaders gave Capital an early lead. Over the next five minutes, the Crusaders kept their feet on the gas to eventually take an 18-6 lead, prompting an ONU timeout. That 12-point lead would prove to be crucial down the stretch.
Starting guards Elle Folan and Emma Burns were critical in the opening quarter as the duo combined to go 5-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc on their way to 21 combined points. Folan scored 11 and Burns had the other 10.
At the end of the first, Capital's lead was down to eight but the Crusaders were in control. After the second quarter though, Capital's lead had shrunk to 38-33 after the Crusaders shot just 3-of-12 in the second quarter. The good news for Capital though was that they limited ONU to only 35.7 percent shooting in the second.
In the third quarter, Folan and Burns again carried the Capital offense by combining to score 10 of Capital's 18 points. The Polar Bears started the quarter with an and-one layup from Jenna Dirksen that brought them within two but Burns nailed a layup of her own to widen the gap and start a little 6-0 burst for the Crusaders. Capital's lead creeped back up to nine points with six minutes to play in the period but ONU refused to go away and ended the quarter down seven.
The Polar Bears scored the first three points of the fourth to again close the gap but Erin Risner got two of those back with Capital's first made shot of the final quarter. After a triple from ONU, Riser responded with another basket of her own and then another to pace the Crusader offense. A made shot and two free throws for ONU though cut Capital's lead to three again and the teams traded baskets on their ensuing possessions after that. A layup from Emily Mescher with 1:58 left to play made it a one-point game prompting Capital to take a timeout.
After the quick break, the Crusaders responded with a huge basket from Risner and then a pair of made free throws from Folan gave the Crusaders a five-point cushion with only seven seconds left. On ONU's nest trip up the floor, Caroline Taphorn blocked a 3-pointer by Dirksen that effectively ended ONU's hopes of a late comeback.
Burns and Folan each ended the game with 20 points to lead the Crusaders and Burns shot 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Risner finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Ten of her points came in the final quarter. And although Taphorn did not score any points, the sophomore tallied eight assists and added a steal and a block on defense.
As a team, the Crusaders shot 22-of-48 from the field and hit 8-of-19 from deep. Capital attempted 20 free throws to ONU's seven and hit 16 of them. Capital also had a 32-30 advantage in rebounds and 14-11 lead in assists.
The Crusaders (11-6, 6-4 Ohio Athletic Conference) will hit the road for another OAC test on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Muskingum University before coming home next Saturday to take on Otterbein University. First though, tipoff between Capital and the Fighting Muskies is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.