By Tim Glon
ADA — Ohio Northern rallied from a 19-point deficit to close within two, but Capital held on for an exciting 69-64 men's basketball victory Saturday at the ONU Sports Center.
The Polar Bears fall to 7-8 overall and are 3-5 in Ohio Athletic Conference play, while the Crusaders improve to 11-4 overall and stay atop the OAC with an 8-0 mark.
Capital was led by Spencer Niekamp and Tim Congrove with 17 points each.
The Crusaders led 42-26 at halftime and extended that advantage to 53-34 with 13:57 left in the game.
But the Polar Bears rallied with a 13-2 run, capped by a basket inside by senior Taylor Kuhlman, to get within striking distance at 55-47 with 9:19 to go.
Two free throws by junior Dominique Royal made it a 58-53 game with 3:47 left and a basket by Pennington brought ONU within 62-60 with 1:41 remaining.
Niekamp scored with 1:22 left to give Capital a 62-58 lead, but sophomore Isaiah Roux answered with a pair of free throws with 37 seconds remaining to make it a 62-60 game.
Two more Niekamp free throws with 33 seconds left made it 64-60 and a Rushton layup made the score 64-62 with 24 seconds left.
Congrove made a pair of free throws one second later and it was 66-62 CU.
Northern had two chances to cut into the lead again on its next possession.
Horstman missed a 3-pointer and Pennington grabbed the offensive rebound, but a turnover later in the possession gave the ball back to the Crusaders with 12 seconds to go.
After a free throw by CU's Michael Sommer made it 67-62, Roux drove for a layup with five seconds left to trim the deficit to 67-64.
But Capital would put the game away with a pair of free throws by Congrove with three seconds left.
Northern started hot, leading 11-7 in the first 3:37.
The Polar Bears made 25 of 57 field goal attempts for 43.9 percent, while the Crusaders made 25 of 52 shots from the floor for 48.1 percent.
But Capital was 7 of 18 from beyond the arc (38.9 percent) to 4 of 19 for ONU (21.1 percent)
CU won the rebounding battle by a 32-27 margin.
The Polar Bears will return to action on Wednesday with a 7:30 pm road contest at Wilmington.