Comeback effort falls just short as Men's Basketball drops 69-64 decision to league-leading Capital

Comeback effort falls just short as Men's Basketball drops 69-64 decision to league-leading Capital

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.

Junior Jared Horstman scored 14 points, sophomore Lucas Pennington scored 14 points and junior Branden Rushton chipped in 12 points for ONU.

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.