Second-Half Effort Sends Crusaders to NCAA Second Round
WOOSTER, Ohio – The Capital University men's basketball team used an outstanding second-half defensive performance and timely shooting to defeat Randolph-Macon (Va.) 68-60 and advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday night at Wooster, Ohio.
The Crusaders (19-9 overall) will take on the winner of tonight's Maryville (Tenn.)-Wooster game tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Wooster for a trip to the Sweet 16.
"They had our number in the first half," Capital coach Damon Goodwin said. "We certainly weren't playing the way we talked about in practice the last week. At halftime, we just talked about correcting ourselves and playing or game. I thought we played efficiently in the second half."
Capital, which trailed 34-22 at the half, held the Yellow Jackets (21-7) scoreless from the 10:03 mark of the second half to the 1:06 mark, scoring 14 unanswered points during that stretch to take a 62-55 advantage with 1:59 to play in the contest.
Randolph-Macon brought it to within 62-60 with 23 seconds on the clock, but the Crusaders knocked down six free throws in the closing moment to seal their bid to the second round.
"We played a little more zone in the second half as I thought we had trouble containing their guards in the first half," Goodwin said. "We played the zone on makes, and we were fortunate to make some shots. I thought we did a good job defensively."
Senior Kelly Winter (Dublin, Ohio) led Capital with 20 points and five rebounds, while junior Spencer Niekamp (St. Henry, Ohio) added 16 points, including 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, and four rebounds.
Senior Tyler Munro (Lexington, Ohio) was also instrumental in the win, totaling nine points and six rebounds off the bench and a key 3-point play with 13:04 to play in the second to bring the Crusaders within three points. Junior Ben Jackson (Columbus, Ohio) contributed with nine rebounds in 31 minutes in a reserve role. Classmate Michael Sommer (Celina, Ohio) registered 11 points.
"We went into this game knowing that Tyler and Mike had to shoot the ball a little better than they have been," Goodwin said. "I thought Ben Jackson with nine rebounds was probably the most important contributor off the bench … he just played a great game for us offensively and defensively."
In the first half, the Crusaders shot just 37.5 percent from the floor and turned it over 10 times, while the Yellow Jackets knocked down 52.0 percent of their attempts.
After Randolph-Macon jumped out to a 12-3 advantage, Capital put together a quick 8-0 run, punctuated with consecutive 3-pointers by senior Tyler Munro (Lexington, Ohio) and junior Spencer Niekamp (St. Henry, Ohio), to narrow the deficit to 12-11 with 12:20 on the clock.
The Yellow Jackets controlled play for the remainder of the period, taking a 34-20 lead with 1:06 remaining before junior Mitch Westerheide (Ft. Loramie, Ohio) beat the halftime buzzer with a nifty lay-up.
The Crusaders continued to fight early in the second half, narrowing their deficit to 34-31 just under two minutes into the frame. Capital tied the game at 55-55 on a pair of Winter free throws with 6:23 to play in the midst of holding Randolph-Macon's scoreless drought.
"We talked about that at halftime, about cutting their lead down to nine by the 16-minute mark, then to seven by the 12-minute mark, then to five by the eight-minute mark," Goodwin said. "I looked up at 10 minutes and I think it was even, so we were way ahead of schedule from standpoint. Our guys just grinded it out, that's how we play."