Top-Seeded Rose-Hulman Advances to HCAC Championship

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strickland-hcacTERRE HAUTE, IND. (Feb. 22, 2013) -- The top-seeded Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology men’s basketball team made statements on both ends of the floor in a dominating 81-59 victory over Defiance College in Friday night’s semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship Tournament at the Engineers’ Hulbert Arena.

Rose-Hulman, the regular season HCAC champions, takes a 23-3 record into Saturday night’s championship game matchup against No. 2 seed and fellow Indiana rival Hanover College, 18-8. The tipoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.

Superlatives for the Engineers on this night included:
* Making 53.6 percent of their field goals (30-of-56).
* Committing just four turnovers, two in each half.
* Collecting 18 assists on 30 total field goals.
* Having 10 steals, contributed by six players.

Junior guard Julian Strickland made 50 percent of his field goals (7-of-15) in scoring 18 points and senior forward Brenton Balsbaugh shot 70 percent (7-of-10) in adding 17 points to lead the Engineers. Seniors Austin Weatherford and Jon Gerken each added 13 points to give the hosts four double-figure scorers.

Rose-Hulman asserted itself early, taking a 10-point advantage in the 5:10 of the game and ended the first half with a 39-25 edge after shooting 56 percent (14-of-25) in the period.

The good times continued in the second half as the hosts opened a 21-point edge, 46-25, in the opening two minutes following two baskets by Strickland and a three-point field goal by Gerken. Then, they took their largest lead, 57-34, following a three-point play by senior reserve Nate Gissentanner with 12:44 remaining in the game.

Defiance could get no closer than 15 points, 61-46, down the stretch despite shooting 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from the field over the second stanza.

Senior guard Logan Wolfrum closed out his stellar collegiate career with a game-high 23 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, which closed out the season with a 16-11 record. Seventeen of Wolfrum’s points came in the second half. Sophomore guard Travis Schomaeker added 10 points for the team.

TAKING NOTE: Rose-Hulman and Hanover will be playing for the second straight Saturday, with the Engineers posting a 59-57 victory on the Panthers’ home floor. Rose-Hulman also was victorious 62-61 over Hanover on December 15 in Terre Haute . . . The Engineers are 19-0 when holding the opposition to under 60 points . . . Rose-Hulman is trying to win the regular season HCAC title and tournament championship for the first time . . . The Engineers are going for their second straight tournament championship, defeating Transylvania in overtime in last year’s finale . . . Rose-Hulman is making its fourth championship game appearance and now has a 8-7 record in HCAC tournament games . . . Defiance lost to the Engineers three times this season.