COLUMBUS, Ohio -– Capital (8-3, 4-1 OAC) defeated No.2 Mount Union (9-1, 4-1 OAC) by a score of 59-57 Saturday in the Capital Center.
Led by junior forward Jamie Caton with 18 points and seven rebounds, the Crusaders were able to fend off the Purple Raiders after holding a 12-point lead in the second half.
Junior guard Cookie Geroski chipped in a well-rounded game of her own with seven points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The victory was Capital’s first against Mount Union since the 2009-10 season and its first against a ranked opponent this season.
“It was a great team win [Saturday],” Capital coach Dixie Jeffers said. “Our kids were focused. We feel we have a strong basketball team and that our kids were going to come in and play them tough. We thought our match-ups were good and that it was going to be a track meet, and it was in the first half.”
Early on in the first half, Capital was operating on all cylinders as it shot 50 percent from the field (16-for-32) and held a nine-point advantage at halftime.
Sophomore Monica Heckman provided a spark off the bench for the Crusaders in the first period as she was perfect from the field (3-for-3) for six points to go along with three rebounds.
Opening up the second half of action, the Crusaders were able to get the Purple Raiders into foul trouble early as they continued to attack the basket and draw fouls as their lead swelled to 12 with 13:25 remaining in the period.
Following a missed jumper by Stacy Timmerman, Mount Union capitalized in transition and connected on a 3-point attempt to tie the game at 52.
“They got a little more physical in the second half, and we didn’t execute very well,” Jeffers said, “but we still won the boards and battled at the end.”
After a Crusader timeout, freshman guard Simonne Gage answered with a quick score to put the Crusaders back on top for good.
Down the stretch, the defense provided for Capital as it came up with stop after stop when it needed them most.
With under a minute to play, the Purple Raiders brought the deficit to within a bucket with 23 seconds remaining in the game after a corner 3-pointer.
Coming out of a Capital timeout, the Crusaders turned the ball over and gave Mount Union the chance to tie or take the lead on the game’s final possession. However, a clutch block by Caton with 4.9 remaining and a deflection on an inbound attempt to give the team a victory.
Despite shooting only 25 percent from the field in the second half, the Crusaders prevailed thanks to a strong defensive effort down the stretch.
“We’re such a young team, and we’re going to be very good,” Jeffers said. “We’re getting better and better every time out. This is going to give us a huge confidence boost. We played the No. 2 team in the country, we played them tough, and we won [Saturday].”