By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Women's Basketball converted three buzzer-beating shots on Saturday but none more important than the one with 2.6 seconds left in the game as the Crusaders downed the Ohio Athletic Conference-leading John Carroll University Blue Streaks 60-58 in The Capital Center.
With the contest tied at 58 with less than 30 seconds to play after JCU tied the game, the Crusaders had one final chance to win in regulation. Elle Folan dribbled the ball around the three-point line before handing the ball off to Caroline Taphorn in the middle of the floor. Taphorn drifted towards the left wing before cutting back to the middle towards a screen set by Erin Risner. Risner's screen occupied two John Carroll defenders as Taphorn drove hard down the lane from the right. With no one between the sophomore guard and the rim, Taphorn calmly laid it up and in for what turned out to be the game-winning score. John Carroll had one final attempt to win but a half-court heave was off the mark.
Taphorn and the Crusaders led for the majority of the game but in the final quarter, the Blue Streaks mounted a comeback. Capital began the final period up 48-36 and Folan nailed a triple to increase Capital's lead to 15 on the quarter's first possession. From that point on though, JCU went on a 22-9 run to end the game. That included a 15-5 run that made the score 55-51 with 2:43 left to play. Tori Grasso scored again for Capital to increase the lead to six but Dani Carlson responded with a triple to again cut the lead to three. Abby Adler followed Carlson's make with a lay up to bring the Blue Streaks within one with 1:37 left.
After a minute of scoreless play, Folan was fouled and converted one free throw, giving Capital a 58-56 advantage. On John Carroll's next possession, Nicole Heffington tied the game with a contested lay up from the right block. After Capital called a timeout, Grasso inbounded to Folan who set up the Taphorn game-winner.
Taphorn scored a game-high 15 points and added four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in a strong all-around performance. Risner scored 12 points and hauled in eight boards while Regan Stonerock grabbed 11 rebounds. Grasso scored 10 points off the bench and had a half-court buzzer-beater of her own to end the first quarter.
The Crusaders scored 22 first-quarter points in one of the team's best opening periods of the year and led 22-14 before both teams scored only nine points each in the second quarter. In the third, the Blue Streaks outscored Capital 22-12 but were only ever able to get to within three points. Capital ended the third on an 11-2 run including another buzzer-beater, this one from Cassidy Bosch.
As a team, Capital shot 40.3 percent from the floor but held John Carroll to only 39 percent shooting. Capital forced 23 JCU turnovers and scored 26 off of those miscues while John Carroll scored only nine points off of Capital's 18 turnovers.
Now sitting at 13-8 overall and 8-6 in the OAC, Capital is firmly in the hunt for one of the top four seeds in the upcoming OAC Tournament with only four games to go in the regular season sitting in fifth in the conference standings. The Crusaders will travel to Heidelberg University on Wednesday, Feb. 6 for their next test as they continue to work towards the tourney. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.