March 6 - COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Bethany College men’s basketball team had as large as a seven-point lead in the early going, but #20 Capital (Ohio) University recovered to build an 18-point halftime advantage and go on for a 92-70 victory over the Bison Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Bethany, who won their 12th PAC championship in school history to reach the NCAA Tournament, saw their season come to an end with a 17-11 record. The Crusaders (24-5) advance to a second round match-up at #1 Hope (Mich) College Saturday night.
Things got off to a good start for the Bison, who were making their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years. Sophomore forward Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) hit consecutive lay-ups and then drilled a three to give BC their biggest lead of the night at 11-4 with five minutes gone from the half.
Bethany continued to shoot well in the early going, as PAC Player of the Year Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) had two three-point plays and when sophomore Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale) hit a little jumper in the lane, the Green and White were on top 26-20 with 9:53 to go before halftime.
However, the OAC regular season champion Crusaders seized control by outscoring Bethany 30-6 the rest of the half to build a 50-32 lead at intermission. Capital’s Nate Stahl ignited the blitz by draining three of his five first half three-pointers and the hosts finished the half shooting 53 percent (20-38) from the floor.
The Bison, who didn’t make a field goal in the final four minutes of the first half, managed to shoot just 29 percent (12-41), which included hitting only 3-of-19 (16 percent) from the arc. Ankrom led Bethany with nine first half markers, while senior guard Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) and Besancon each had seven. Leading Capital was Stahl with 15 points.
The Crusaders kept the momentum into the second half, as they pushed their lead to 20 with the first basket of the period and would see their advantage swell to as large as 26 at 69-43 on a lay-up from Casey Brown with 11:36 to go.
Bethany would make one more run to stay in the game. BC trimmed the deficit to 71-55 three minutes later with a 12-2 run, capped by back-to-back treys from Besancon and Jackson, who had seven during the spurt. Unfortunately, the Bison would move no closer, as Capital answered with triples from D.J. Frazier and Stahl to run their advantage back up to 20 and cruise to the win from there.
The Bison’s final game saw their two seniors lead them in scoring. Adams totaled 16 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Jackson rifled in 16 as well and also pulled down five rebounds. Jackson finished his career with 1,175 career points to rank 11th all-time at the school.
Also reaching double figures for the Bison, who shot 37 percent (26-70) for the game, was Ankrom with 11 and Besancon with 10.
Capital, which knocked down 52 percent (35-67) of their shots for the game, was led by an outstanding shooting night from Stahl. The OAC Player of the Year was 7-for-9 from the three-point line on his way to a game-high 25. Forward Steve Kyser totaled 13 points and eight rebounds to lead a Crusader squad that posted a 45-38 advantage on the glass.