DEFIANCE, OHIO -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology improved to 21-2 on the men's basketball season and clinched a share of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship with a 63-62 victory at Defiance College on Saturday.
Defiance senior Logan Wolfrum missed a well defended eight-foot shot in the lane at the buzzer, as the Fightin' Engineers improved to 15-1 in HCAC play.
Rose-Hulman secured a share of its first regular season men's basketball conference championship since 2001 with the victory. The Fightin' Engineers would clinch hosting rights for the HCAC Tournament with a win at Earlham College in the John Mutchner Cup Game on Wednesday.
Senior Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) came off the bench with a career-high 20 points to lead the Rose-Hulman offensive effort. Gissentanner scored all 20 points in the second half and finished 7-10 from the field.
Junior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) added 11 points, and senior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) also reached double figures with 10 points for Rose-Hulman.
Senior Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio//Arcanum) pitched in with seven points for the Engineers.
Bernard Edwards and Travis Schomaeker led the Defiance offense with 15 points each, and Wolfrum also reached double figures with 11 points.
Defiance shot 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range in the first half to take a 32-25 lead at the break. Rose-Hulman turned around the contest with a 57% shooting performance in the second half, including 10-11 from the free throw line.
Defiance pushed its second half lead to 38-28 at the 17:23 mark on a layup by Mason Roth. Rose-Hulman answered with a three-point play by Balsbaugh and four straight points from Gissentanner to close within 38-35 at the 13:05 mark.
The Yellow Jackets maintained an eight-point lead at 53-45 after a Wolfrum score in the lane with 8:11 remaining. The Fightin' Engineers answered back with an 11-2 run to capture a 56-55 lead on a Gissentanner three-pointer at the 5:23 mark.
Rose-Hulman pushed its lead to three points at 60-57 on a Strickland layup at the 3:09 mark. Edwards answered with a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to tie the score at 60-60 with 2:30 remaining.
Gissentanner stepped up again on the next possession, draining another three-pointer to put Rose-Hulman in front 63-60 at the 2:12 mark. Defiance closed within 63-62 on a Roth layup at the 1:53 mark.
After the two teams exchanged empty possessions, Rose-Hulman had a chance to push the lead beyond one point in the final minutes. The Engineers ran the clock down to the final 14 seconds before missing a jumper, and the rebound went out of bounds to Defiance with 9.3 seconds left and a 63-62 score.
The Yellow Jackets inbounded and Wolfrum went the length of the court and spun in the lane before missing at the buzzer, as Rose-Hulman earned its 21st win in a season for just the second time in program history.
Rose-Hulman stands 21-2 and holds a two-game lead in the HCAC standings at 15-1 in league play. Hanover and Transylvania, who face each other on Wednesday, remain tied for second in the conference at 13-3 in league games. Defiance dropped to 14-9 overall and 10-6 in conference play.