MILWAUKEE, WIS. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology placed three players in double figures and relied on a strong defensive effort to top Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 79-45 in the men's basketball opener for both schools on Saturday.
Junior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) scored 23 points, and senior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) also reached double figures with 15.
Senior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) came off the bench to tally his fifth career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Jimmy Milller (Indianapolis/North Central) scored nine points with four rebounds, and senior Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio/Arcanum) added six points and five boards.
Rose-Hulman shot 56% from the field and hit 12 of 15 free throw attempts in the first half to take a 46-24 lead into the locker room. RPI took an early 5-0 lead, before Rose-Hulman responded with a 25-4 run to take control of the game midway through the first half.
The lead 20 points at 31-11 on a score by Balsbaugh at the 7:20 mark of the first half. Rose-Hulman's edge reached as high as 26 points in the opening 20 minutes on a trey by junior James Pillischafske (Louisville, Ky./Male) at the 2:14 mark.
In the second half, RPI closed to within 16 points at 50-34, but an 18-9 run over the next five minutes put Rose-Hulman ahead 68-43 and secured the first victory of the season.
Rose-Hulman advances to the championship game of the Milwaukee School of Engineering Tournament, and will face the host Raiders on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Indiana time.