COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mount Union's men's basketball team trailed Capital wire-to-wire in an 86-74 loss in an Ohio Athletic Conference game Saturday afternoon in the Capital Performance Arena.
The Purple Raiders had three players in double-figures led by senior JJ Kukura (Alliance) who posted 21 points and seven rebounds. Junior Andrew Francesconi (Tallmadge) and sophomore Nathan Bower-Malone (Stow) were also in double-figures with 18 and 13 points, respectively.
With the loss, Mount Union drops to 10-11 overall and 6-8 in the OAC.
Capital, now 11-10 overall and 7-7 in the OAC, had four players in double-figures led by Austin Schrek with 24 and Caleb Cox with 22. Will Hannah and Cameron Caldwell also chipped in 11 a piece for the Crusaders.
The first half opened up with Capital jumping out to a 17-0 lead less than five minutes into the game before a Kukura layup got the Raiders on the board. Capital upped their lead to 26 at 34-8 with 8:56 remaining in the first half. Mount Union battled back to finish the half on a 16-7 run to cut the deficit back down to 17 at 41-24.
Mount opened the second half on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 12 but the Crusaders pushed their lead back to 21 with an 11-2 answer with 15:42 remaining. Mount Union then answered with a 13-1 run capped by a Francesconi three-point basket to cut their deficit back to 11 at 53-42 with 13:50 remaining.
Mount Union continued to run as they cut the Crusader lead to five at 58-53 on two Bower-Malone free throws with 5:26 remaining in the game. However, the Crusaders answered with an 11-2 run to push their lead back to 14 at 69-55.
With the score 70-57 in favor of Capital, a 13-6 run for the Raiders capped by another Francesconi three cut the deficit back to six with 2:32 remaining at 76-70. That was the closest Mount Union would get as Capital held off the Raiders late with free throws.
Mount Union shot 27-of-58 (46.6%) and 9-of-23 from distance (39.1%) while Capital shot a blazing 31-of-51 (60.8%) and 9-of-16 from distance (56.3%).
The Raiders come back home to face Muskingum at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7th.