WILMINGTON, Ohio - The Wilmington College men's basketball team upended No. 16 and league-leading Capital University 67-62 to send its seniors off with a victory in the final home game of the 2018-19 regular season on Wednesday evening.
"What a fantastic atmosphere to send off four excellent seniors," Head Men's Basketball Coach K.C. Hunt said. "Our crowd played a big role in us sustaining energy throughout the entire game and having enough to come back and earn the win."
Wilmington took an 8-2 lead early on baskets from four different Fightin' Quakers, but Capital, behind its center Caleb Cox, battled back to take an 11-10 edge seven minutes into the contest. Neither team would lead by more than a basket for six minutes until the Quakers, in a 21-21 game, rattled off a 9-0 run capped by a triple from Andrew Russell.
After a timeout, Capital responded with an 11-1 run that tied the game on a Joey Weingartner jumper with 28 seconds to play in the half. DaeShawn Jackson answered with a basket at the buzzer giving Wilmington a 34-32 lead at the break.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were played with an eight-point window as both team's largest leads were four points. Trailing by two, a Jeffery Mansfield basket made the score 52-50 in favor of Capital, but a Weingartner triple on the following possession pushed the visitors' advantage to five points. A missed triple on the other end from Russell led to a Weingartner triple in transition that would have put Capital up eight points. The shot was just short, however, as an Abdul Kanu basket got the deficit back to 55-52 with 9:31 to go.
Capital would hold onto its slim lead for the next three minutes as a Will Hannah free throw put the Crusaders, who had already clinched at least a share of the OAC regular season title, up 57-54. Wilmington, as it has all season at Fred Raizk Arena, answered with what proved to be the game-winning run. A Will Patrick triple tied it, and Kanu scored two consecutive baskets which were followed by a Mansfield bucket. The Quakers did all of this while forcing the Crusaders into four straight turnovers. In total, the run tallied 11-0 in 2:37 that put Wilmington up 65-57.
"We showed the ability to turn it up another notch defensively tonight," said Hunt. "I thought our guys fed off of each other. If something was open, it got covered really quick."
The Crusaders would battle back to within a single basket (65-62) and get the ball with a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. A turnover that followed ended the game.
Both teams shot between 42-43 percent from the field, but Wilmington made five more field goals. Both teams made five triples while Capital converted 13-of-20 (65.0 percent) from the free throw line compared to 8-of-10 (80.0 percent) for the Quakers. The visitors held a 43-30 rebounding edge, but were forced into 19 turnovers including six in the final six minutes.
Individually, Mansfield finished with a dozen points to lead the Quakers while Jackson and Patrick both netted 11 points. Payton Smith scored six points along with six steals and four assists.
"Payton Smith was a lockdown defender for us tonight," Hunt said. "Great point guard play is a key to winning a championship and he certainly did that."
Both Cox (15 points and 12 rebounds) and Austin Schreck (14 points and 12 rebounds) notched double-doubles for Capital in defeat.
Wilmington improves to 17-6 overall and 13-4 in Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) play with the victory. The Quakers, who have clinched a first round home game in the OAC Tournament next weekend, conclude their 2018-19 regular season at John Carroll University on Saturday.