March 7, 2009

Courtesy of Capital

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sophomore guard D.J. Frazier (Cincinnati, Ohio/Withrow HS) banked in a one-handed runner with one second left, and the No. 13 Capital University men's basketball team defeated the College of Wooster 72-70 in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship Saturday at The Capital Center.

Senior guard Ryan Wood (Pickerington, Ohio/Central HS) hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to put Capital ahead 70-67. The Scots answered, as Nathan Balch hit a three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game with 9.1 seconds remaining.

Frazier took the ball coast-to-coast and elevated with his right hand over a Wooster defender for the game-winner.

"That's something that we work on every day in practice," Frazier said. "It felt good off my fingertips."

"We thought we could get back and get our defense set," said Wooster head coach Steve Moore. "Capital ran a good play and Frazier made a good shot."

The Crusaders (26-4) advance to play the University of Texas-Dallas Friday at a site to be determined, and this is the second time in program history that the team has reached the national quarterfinals (1982). Wooster concludes its season at 23-7.

A back-and-forth contest witnessed 16 ties and seven lead changes. The Scots took a 40-33 lead early in the second half on a jumper by Ian Franks before the Crusaders responded with a 15 unanswered points, part of an 18-2 flurry.

Senior guard Nate Stahl (St. Henry, Ohio/St. Henry HS) hit one of his game-high five three-pointers to tie the score at 40, and forward Ross Niekamp (St. Henry, Ohio/St. Henry HS) followed with a three-point play to give Capital its first lead since the 12:46 mark of the first half.

Senior forward Casey Brown (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready HS) scored inside and Frazier hit a three-pointer from the left corner that gave Capital its biggest lead at 48-40 with 15:51 left.

But the Scots surged right back with a 15-2 sprint to retake the lead, with Bryan Wickliffe scoring seven of his 16 points during that stretch, and led 53-50 with just over 11 minutes to play.

Wooster stretched its lead to 57-52, but another three-point play from Niekamp and a layup from sophomore forward Adam Johns (St. Marys, Ohio/St. Marys Memorial HS) knotted the score at 57 at the 7:25 mark.

"There's no doubt that was a great basketball game," said Capital head coach Damon Goodwin. "We just made one more play at the end of the game. This team doesn't panic when it gets down."

"Playing in the [Ohio Athletic Conference] and being in the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row, it seems like every game we've played has been a big game," added Stahl, who scored 17 points and moved into third on Capital's all-time scoring list (1,569 points). "Every time Wooster made a shot, we were able to answer."

Niekamp had team-highs in both points (18) and rebounds (eight) and Brown scored 10 points to pace the Crusaders, who shook off an 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) effort from the field in the first half by hitting nearly 54 percent (15-of-28) of their shots in the second half.

‘We had the intensity from the beginning, but Wooster earned its lead with the way they shot the ball," Goodwin said. The Scots hit over 54 percent (13-of-24) in the first half and over 51 percent (23-for-45) for the game.

"We're not the most excitable team to watch. But we took our time and got the shots that we wanted."

NOTES: Capital improved to a perfect 15-0 at home this season, which is the best home court mark in the NCAA Great Lakes Region...The Crusaders also improved to 5-0 this season against teams from the North Coast Athletic Conference. Capital defeated Kenyon, Wittenberg, Denison and Ohio Wesleyan during the regular season...Stahl is just three points away from passing Tom Lanier (1985-1989) for second-most points in Crusader history. Mike Stumpf (1969-1973) is the all-time leading scorer with 1,677 points.