By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – The Capital University men's basketball team will have an extended stay in Illinois this weekend. The Crusaders scrapped and clawed to force overtime in its NCAA first round tournament game against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and then the Purple and White stayed hot en route to a 78-76 win over the Pioneers. Cap will advance to play in Saturday's second-round contest against host Augustana College.
Capital (21-7) found itself down by seven points with 2:40 to go in regulation but never let up in the face of adversity. Senior Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) began Cap's comeback with a pair of free throws after being fouled, making the scoreboard read 69-64 in favor of the Pioneers. Platteville's Robert Duax came up empty on two free throw attempts on the other end and then committed a turnover on its next possession. Senior Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville) made them pay when he hit one of his six triples on the night to make for a one-score game, 69-67.
A third senior came to turn the tide and lead the assault down the floor when out of a Pioneer timeout Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) came up with a key steal to put the ball back in Cap's hands with under one minute to go. The Crusaders tried to feed it down low but the ball was batted away when passed inside the lane. Senior Caleb Cox (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) was there to collect the loose ball and serve up the game-tying layup with 41 seconds left on the clock.
Tied 69-69, the Pioneers had not one but two chance to claim victory but both of their 3-point attempts landed off the mark and the teams went to overtime.
Wisconsin-Platteville continued to rely on the 3-point shot but missed its first three attempts in the overtime session. Free throw shooting came to be the Crusaders' best asset in the extra frame as seven of its nine points in overtime came from the charity stripe. Cox put back Cap's lone field goal when he collected an offensive rebound and laid in an easy two to put the Crusaders up by three, 74-71. The Pioneers tied it up at 74 with a Duax make on the other end with 2:10 remaining. Wisconsin-Platteville's low shooting marks in overtime doomed their chances at victory while Capital kept showing success at creating easy chances at the charity stripe by drawing fouls. Hannah made three of four free throws after being fouled twice to drive the score to 77-74 and a Kyle Tuma make trimmed the lead to one with just 42 seconds to go.
Both teams traded misses on its next possessions and Caleb Cox's defensive rebound with four seconds remaining preserved the one-point lead and sent senior Gavin Wildermuth to the line after he was fouled trying to move it up the floor. Following a split at the line to make the score 78-76 in favor of Cap, Wisconsin-Platteville set up the play that ended the game. They were forced to shoot a three for the win, but Duax's half-court shot off the free throw miss was off the mark and the win went to Capital.
The entire game half did not feature a lead of more than seven until the point where Cap made its comeback, and both shared time with the lead throughout. The Crusaders took a six-point lead into the break, 32-26, but it disappeared less than three minutes into the second half when the Pioneers went on an 8-2 run to kick off the second half. In the second half alone, there were eight ties and seven lead changes leading into overtime.
Wisconsin-Platteville was led by Quentin Shields' 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He also added six assists and six rebounds. He was one of three double-digit scorers which also included Duax (16) and Carter Voelker (13).
Four of Capital's five starters landed in double figures led by Weingartner's 25 points. He shot 9-of-17 from the field and 6-of-13 from behind the arc. He also chipped in three assists.
Adding to Capital's notable performers was Cox, who posted a double-double behind 17 points and 12 rebounds. Schreck ended the night with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Hannah posted 14 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Cameron Caldwell made his return to the lineup after a lengthy absence due to a hand injury. He started at point guard, scored five points, and had one steal and three rebounds in 25 minutes of play in his return.
Both team's shooting percentages were close by comparison but Cap had more success at the free throw line after hitting 23-of-30 (.767) while the Pioneers went just 11-for-17 (.647).
Capital will now ready for its second round matchup against site host Augustana College (25-3). The Vikings defeated Aurora College, 93-67, in its first round game that commenced after Capital's victory. The Vikings and Crusaders will tip off on Saturday at 7 p.m. CST / 8 p.m. EST for the right to continue on to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The game will take place at The Carver Center at Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.).
For more information on the tournament, click here.