BLUFFTON, OHIO -- Bluffton University placed three players in double figures to capture a tightly contested 62-56 men's basketball victory over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Saturday.
Bluffton never trailed in the contest but also never led by more than eight points in the 40-minute matchup.
Sophomores Jake Dodd (St. Peters, Mo/Missouri-St. Louis) and Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) paced a balanced Rose-Hulman scoring attack with 10 points.
Will Pope led the Beavers with 14 points off the bench, and Dustin Kinn added 12 points on four three-pointers for Bluffton. Brent Farley contributed 11 points for the Beavers.
Bluffton jumped out to a 6-0 lead by holding the Engineers scoreless for the first seven minutes, then built an 11-3 edge at the 12:06 mark. Rose-Hulman rallied to force a tie at 15-15 on a jumper by Strickland at the 7:51 mark.
The contest featured ties at 19 and 21, before Bluffton scored six straight points to gain a 29-25 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Rose-Hulman forced another tie at 29 on a score by Strickland with 18:21 remaining. Bluffton rebuilt another six-point lead before the Engineers rallied to within 51-49 on a three-pointer by senior Blake Knotts (Louisville, Ky./Christian), 54-52 on another trey by junior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) and 58-56 with 1:18 left on a three-pointer by senior Jason Haslag (Linn, Mo./Helias Interparrish).
Rose-Hulman forced a missed shot on the next Bluffton possession, before turning the ball over themselves. Josh Fisher scored on a layup with 24 seconds to give Bluffton a 60-56 lead, and the Beavers held Rose-Hulman off the board for the remainder of the game.
Haslag, Gerken and junior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) contributed seven points each for Rose-Hulman, while Knotts added six to the balanced effort.
Rose-Hulman dropped into third place in the HCAC standings at 13-4 overall and 7-3 in conference play with the loss. Bluffton stands 11-6 and 5-5 in league play. The Fightin' Engineers hit the road for Manchester College on Wednesday night.