BLUFFTON, OHIO - Bluffton University relied on a balanced scoring attack and strong free throw shooting to down Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 76-64 in men's basketball action on Saturday.
Sophomore Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) tied a career-high with 22 points to pace the Fightin' Engineer offensive effort.
Freshman Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) came off the bench to provide 16 points on 6-9 from the field.
Other key contributors for Rose-Hulman included sophomore Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) with nine points, three rebounds and three assists; and sophomore Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio/ Arcanum) with seven points and eight rebounds.
Mychal Hill led the Beavers with 14 points, and Will Pope came off the bench to add 12 points. Josh Fisher, Nate Heckelman and Josh Johnson scored eight points each for Bluffton.
Free throw shooting proved another key for Bluffton, as the Beavers finished 27-34 on the free throw line compared to 10-16 for the Engineers.
Bluffton led 20-12 early in the first half, before Rose-Hulman answered with a 14-3 spurt to gain a 26-23 lead with 2:30 left. Balsbaugh had six points and Strickland scored four during the spurt.
Rose-Hulman pushed its lead to six points at 34-28 at the break on a last second layup by junior Spencer Harlan (Terre Haute/South). The Engineers maintained the lead at 41-35 on a free throw by Gissentanner at the 17:00 mark. Bluffton battled back to tie the score at 48-48 with nine minutes left.
Bluffton gained a 53-50 advantage, then withstood Rose-Hulman's rally with a 9-2 run to gain a 65-56 lead with 3:25 remaining. The Beavers then relied on their free throw shooting for another 9-4 run to secure the win.
Bluffton improved 9-4 overall and 2-4 in league play with the victory, while Rose-Hulman dropped to 9-4 and 3-3 in conference play. The Fightin' Engineers travel to in-state conference foe Anderson University on Wednesday.