WILMINGTON — The Wilmington College men’s basketball team held Capital University to a single field goal in the final five minutes Saturday to earn a 68-61 Ohio Athletic Conference victory, and a series split.
Neither team broke away early on until Hunter Ruckel gave the Fightin’ Quakers a spark off the bench. The freshman’s steal at the 7:20 mark led to a Jeffery Mansfield layup to put the hosts up 20-15. Mansfield then earned steals on the next two possessions and found Ruckel for a basket on the latter. Capital stayed within five with a layup, but Ruckel scored yet again, putting WC on top 25-17. The hosts held a 37-30 advantage at halftime.
Mansfield opened the second half with a basket, but Capital stormed back with a 13-1 run spanning just over three minutes that forced Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt to call timeout. Mansfield and Ruckel scored on two straight possessions to tie the game 45-45, but a 7-0 spurt from the visitors put WC in another hole.
Jayden Lewis tied the game 56-56 with six minutes to play. Reed Bradfield answered to put Capital up two. Wilmington then turned up its defensive intensity, allowing just three points over the final five minutes. During that time, four Quakers – Noah Dado, Collmann Aaron, Jackson Todd and Mansfield – scored on four straight possessions to put the hosts in front 63-58. The Crusaders would score their lone field goal of the final five minutes, a dunk in transition, to pull back within a score, but four straight points from Mansfield put the game away.
Mansfield led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Jackson Todd poured in a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
“What a gritty team win,” Hunt said. “We just kept on coming with our backs against the wall in that second half. Both Jackson and Jeffery made huge plays down the stretch. They were not going to let us lose.”
Wilmington (2-4) faces Marietta College for two games Friday and Saturday.