Capital Knocks Off First-Place Ohio Northern as Jeffers Nears Milestone

COLUMBUS – Following a subpar performance just two days earlier, the Capital University women's basketball team returned to the court Wednesday with a vengeance … and a hot shooting hand.

The Crusaders shot 53.4 percent from the field, including a sizzling 60.6 percent in the first half, en route to an 83-64 victory over Ohio Northern in Ohio Athletic Conference action at the Capital Center.

"When our team decides to focus and play hard, we can do good things," Capital coach Dixie Jeffers said. "I'm most proud of the fact that we only had nine turnovers … that showed our focus. We left the gym as a good team, and we left the gym tired, which I hope happens more as we move along."

The win also gave Jeffers career victory No. 599, pushing her one away from the 600th of her career. Jeffers, in her 26th year at Capital, is on the verge of becoming the seventh NCAA Division III coach to reach 600 wins.

Capital (6-4 overall, 2-2 OAC), which was on the losing end of a nearly identical score (84-66) on Monday against St. Vincent (Pa.), poured in 31 points in the first 10:50 of the opening half and led by double digits almost the entire way.

"This was a big game, and we used Monday as our motivation to play well," junior Rebekah Will said. "(Coach Jeffers) has expectations, and we wanted to meet those, so we regrouped after Monday's game and got some shots up."

The Polar Bears (9-2, 4-1) entered the contest in first place in the league and on a seven-game winning streak. The Crusaders held them to 33.3 percent shooting, including a 6-for-27 mark from 3-point range.

"Defensively, we played well," Jeffers said. "We made some mistakes inside in the first half, but made the halftime adjustments. I thought our bench did a great job when we got into some foul trouble."

Sophomore Jamie Caton (Hilliard, Ohio; at right) scored a game- and career-high 23 points to go along with five rebounds to lead Capital. Senior Shalena Hawkins (Cincinnati, Ohio) added 17 points, while classmate Hilary Kuhns (Fairfield, Ohio) added 14 points off the bench.Jamie Caton action shot

"Jamie's capable of that every game," said Will, who tallied 11 points, five rebounds and a team-best five assists. "Today she just took over and got into her zone where no one can stop her, so we just tried to get her the ball."

Caton, who bested her career high by two points, shot 8-for-10 from the field and made 7-of-11 from the free throw line. The forward scored on a combination of short jumpers and drives to the middle of the lane.

"Jamie Caton is a versatile athlete," Jeffers said. "When she channels her emotions to focus, she is one of the best players in the conference."

In the first half, the two teams played to a 10-10 tie through the first five minutes before the Crusaders embarked on a 15-2 run, punctuated by back-to-back 3-pointers by Will (Millbury, Ohio) and Kuhns to push the score to 25-12 with 11:05 remaining.

After Capital made another run to push its lead to 23, Ohio Northern worked its offense to trim down the deficit to 48-35 by halftime.

The Crusaders led by no less than 11 during the second period while extending their lead to as many as 21.

Capital held a 19-8 advantage in points off turnovers and outscored the Polar Bears 34-18 in the paint.

The Crusaders return to play in the New Year on Jan. 2 at local non-conference foe Ohio Wesleyan. Tip-off in Delaware is set for 7:30 p.m.

Players and coaches agree that consistency is the key to success after the break.

"It was a great way to end 2011," Jeffers said. "We need this win to propel us into 2012."