DEFIANCE, OHIO - Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology led from start to finish and withstood a late charge by Defiance College to capture a 70-65 men's basketball victory on Saturday.
Freshman Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) led a balanced Rose-Hulman scoring attack with 17 points to tie his career high.
Junior Blake Knotts (Louisville, Ky./Christian) and sophomore Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) each scored 14 points for the Engineers. Knotts finished with three points and Gerken contributed six rebounds in a return game in his hometown.
Freshman James Pillischafske (Louisville, Ky./Male) buried a trio of three-point field goals in a nine-point effort to provide support.
Logan Wolfrum led the Defiance effort with 26 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kyle Tietje and Ryan Hicks scored eight points each.
Rose-Hulman relied on hot shooting by burying 52% of its field goal attempts and seven three pointers in the victory.
The Engineers jumped out to an early 14-7 lead and maintained a seven-point edge for much of the first half. The Yellow Jackets rallied to tie the score for the only time in the game at 28-28, before two baskets by Gerken and a layup by junior Jason Haslag (Linn, Mo./Helias Interparrish) gave Rose-Hulman a 34-28 lead at halftime.
Defiance scored the first five points of the second half to trim the margin to 34-33 on a three-pointer from Wolfrum, but the Engineers scored nine of 11 points to capture a 43-35 lead on a score by Strickland at the 16:12 mark.
The Engineer lead stayed between four and eight points for the next 12 minutes as both teams showed consistency in the second half. Knotts scored on a layup to put the Engineers in front 61-53 at the 3:08 mark.
Defiance trimmed the margin to three points again at 61-58 on three free throws from Wolfrum at the 2:08 mark. A layup by Gerken and one free throw from Knotts pushed the Engineer lead to 64-58 with 1:09 remaining.
Defiance rallied to within four points at 66-62 on two free throws by Leroy Lewis. Haslag and sophomore Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to eight points and secure the victory.
With the win, Rose-Hulman improved to 12-5 overall and 6-4 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play to maintain a share of fourth place in the league standings. The league tournament will feature six teams later this month.
Defiance dropped to 10-7 and 5-5 in HCAC play. The Fightin' Engineers return to action at Franklin College on Wednesday night.