BLUFFTON, OHIO -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology placed four players in double figures and improved to 3-0 in HCAC play with a 63-43 men's basketball victory over Bluffton University on Saturday.
Junior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) led the offensive effort with 17 points on 6-11 from the field. Senior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) added a double-double featuring 15 points and 11 rebounds as Rose-Hulman improved to 7-1 overall on the season.
Senior Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) scored 11 points, and senior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) also reached double figures with 10 points and six assists.
Other key contributors included senior Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio/Arcanum) with four points and three rebounds; and junior Alec Houpt (Chesterton) with four points off the bench.
Dustin Kinn and Will Pope led the Bluffton offensive effort with eight points each.
Rose-Hulman shot 53% from the field for the game and was also 9-11 from the free throw line in a strong shooting performance. The Fightin' Engineers also held their fourth opponent to 45 points or less this season on the defensive end.
Bluffton jumped out to a 5-0 lead, before Rose-Hulman answered with a 17-6 run to take a 17-11 edge on a layup by Gerken at the 4:36 mark.
After the Beavers closed within 19-14, Rose-Hulman closed the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 29-16 lead into the break. Gerken keyed the run with a three-pointer, with Strickland and Weatherford combining for the other seven points.
In the second half, Rose-Hulman maintained a 13-point lead at 33-20 on two free throws by Strickland at the 17:42 mark. The margin remained between 10 and 15 points until Gissentanner buried a three-pointer at the 11:43 mark to push Rose-Hulman's lead to 44-28.
Bluffton was able to close within 12 points on one occasion, but another 13-6 run by the Engineers secured the victory.
Rose-Hulman returns to action with a non-conference home game against Millikin University on Wednesday at 7:30. Bluffton dropped to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.