TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- No. 19 ranked Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology improved to 20-2 on the men's basketball season and kept a two-game lead in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a 72-63 win over Franklin College on Wednesday.
The Fightin' Engineers celebrated Senior Night for five members of the team, and junior Julian Strickland (pictured) (Indianapolis/Pike) became the 29th player in Rose-Hulman history to cross the 1,000-point mark in the win.
Seniors Brenton Balsbaugh (Arcanum, Ohio), Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora), Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County), Jordan Nielson (Syracuse, Utah/Clearfield) and Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) served as the starting lineup and played their final regular season home game at Hulbert Arena.
Weatherford led all scorers with 21 points on 7-12 from the field. Strickland scored 17 points to increase his career point total to 1,007, and Gissentanner poured in 16 points with five rebounds and three assists. Gerken also contributed seven points to the offensive attack.
Rose-Hulman shot 54% from the field and 56% in the second half to earn its 20th win in a season for the fifth time in school history. The Fightin' Engineers maintained their two-game HCAC lead at 14-1 in conference play, as Transylvania and Hanover both stand 12-3.
Rose-Hulman jumped out to a fast start to take a 16-2 lead on five straight points from Strickland at the 11:41 mark. He crossed the 1,000-point mark on the first of two free throws at the 4:19 mark of the first half that put the Engineers ahead 30-18.
The lead reached 37-20 on a three-pointer by Gissentanner, a basket by Strickland and a defensive effort that allowed just two points in the final 5:10 of the first half.
In the second half, Franklin trimmed the margin to eight points at 52-44 on a three-pointer by Gunner Erwin, who led the Grizzlies with 19 points, at the 8:28 mark. Rose-Hulman answered with a 13-2 run to take a 65-46 lead and secure the win.
Rose-Hulman returns to action on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Defiance College. Franklin dropped to 13-9 overall and 8-7 in conference games. The Fightin' Engineers can earn just the second season with more than 20 wins in program history with a victory at Defiance.