Hot Shooting Leads Rose-Hulman Past Franklin

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TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology shot 64% from the field in the second half to overcome an early deficit and defeat Franklin College 75-65 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball action on Wednesday night.

Junior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) led four Fightin' Engineers in double figures with 20 points.  Sophomore Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) added 16 points for the balanced attack.

Senior Blake Knotts (Louisville, Ky./Christian) contributed 11 points, while junior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The victory was also the 250th for head coach Jim Shaw at Rose-Hulman.  Shaw ranks second in school history with 250 victories, behind only the 340 career wins of 25-year coach John Mutchner, and is completing his 18th season as head coach.

Will Conoley led the Franklin offense with 19 points and eight rebounds.  Bailey Howard pitched in with 14 points, and Gunner Erwin scored 11 for the Grizzlies.

Franklin jumped out to a 15-2 lead seven minutes into the contest, before Rose-Hulman whittled the lead to 23-18 at the 5:29 mark on a score by senior Jason Haslag (Linn, Mo./Helias Interparrish). 

Franklin withstood the charge to take a 33-26 lead into the break on a three-pointer by Clay Starrett at the buzzer.

Rose-Hulman opened the second half on an 11-1 run to take its first lead at 37-34 on a three-pointer by Weatherford with 16:38 left.  A score by Gerken kept the Engineer lead at 46-43, before J.T. Barton tied the game again at 46-46 with 11:52 remaining.

Rose-Hulman answered with five straight points to take the lead for good at 51-46 with 9:46 remaining.  Strickland scored back-to-back field goals and Haslag added a free throw in the run.

The Engineer lead reached seven points on four occasions in the second half, before two free throws by Strickland and a layup by Gerken gave Rose-Hulman a double figure lead at 70-60 in the final minute.

Other key contributors for Rose-Hulman included Haslag with seven points and three rebounds, and sophomore Jake Dodd (St. Peters, Mo./Missouri-St. Louis) with four points.

Rose-Hulman improved to 13-3 overall and 7-2 in HCAC play, while Franklin stands 9-7 and 6-3 in league games.  The Fightin' Engineers remain in second place in the league, one game behind Transylvania, and return to action on Saturday at Bluffton.