TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology men's basketball team will host the 2014 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Feb. 28-Mar. 1 at Hulbert Arena.
Semifinal action includes a doubleheader at Rose-Hulman on Friday Feb. 28. Second-seeded Defiance will face third-seeded Hanover in the opener at 6 p.m., followed by top-seeded Rose-Hulman against fourth-seeded Mount St. Joseph at 8 p.m.
The two Friday night winners will advance to the championship game set for 7 p.m. on Saturday Mar. 1. The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Defiance enters the tournament after earning a share of its first HCAC regular season championship since 2007-08 with a 15-3 record against league foes. The Yellow Jackets, also 20-5 on the season, lead the conference and rank sixth nationally in scoring defense by allowing just 58.6 points per game. Defiance also has three players in the top nine in the league in blocked shots. Senior Ryan Hicks has crossed the 1,000-point mark and needs one rebound for 500 career boards.
Hanover has won six of its last seven games, including four consecutive victories, entering the HCAC semifinal round. The Panthers (18-8, 13-5 HCAC) have a tested tournament tradition featuring six championship game appearances and three consecutive conference tournament titles in 2003, '04 and '05. Tim Bass (14.3 ppg) and Kyle James (11.4 ppg) lead a balanced scoring attack that features three players in double figures. Hanover advanced to the HCAC semifinals by defeating Franklin on Tuesday night.
Defiance and Hanover split their two regular season meetings, with each team winning at home. Hanover topped Defiance 67-63 on Jan. 4 in a game that featured four Panthers in double figures, led by Bass and V.J. Billups with 18 points each. Defiance won the second meeting 59-51 in overtime on Jan. 25, behind 19 points from Bernard Edwards.
Rose-Hulman has earned the No. 1 seed for the HCAC Tournament with a 20-5 record after earning a share of its second consecutive regular season conference championship. The effort marks the school record third consecutive year that the Fightin' Engineers have won 20 or more games. Preseason All-American Julian Strickland leads the Fightin' Engineers in scoring at 22.8 points per game. Rose-Hulman earned hosting rights by winning 17 of its last 19 games.
Mount St. Joseph hopes to make history and earn the first NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament appearance in school history this weekend. The Lions have enjoyed a program resurgance under third-year head coach Toby Carrigan, including its first winning season since 2006-07 this year. Joel Scudder leads three players in double figures by averaging 16.0 points per contest. Mount St. Joseph advanced to the HCAC semifinals by defeating Transylvania in the tournament's first round on Tuesday night.
Rose-Hulman and Mount St. Joseph split their two meetings during the regular season, with each team winning at home. The Fightin' Engineers topped Mount St. Joseph 65-60 on Jan. 18, behind a 33-point effort from Strickland. Mount St. Joseph snapped Rose-Hulman's eight-game winning streak with a 69-57 win on Feb. 22, behind a team-high 17 points from David Mann.
By postseason tournament rules, all adults will be charged a $6 admission fee and there will be no pass list. Students, faculty and staff from HCAC schools will be admitted free with identification. Non-HCAC students and senior citizens will be charged $5 and those age 11 and under are free.
2014 HCAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE & RESULTS:
TUESDAY FEB. 25 - OPENING ROUND
Hanover 78, Franklin 70
Mount St. Joseph 75, Transylvania 54
FRIDAY FEB. 28 - SEMIFINALS (at Hulbert Arena - Rose-Hulman)
No. 3 Hanover vs. No. 2 Defiance, 6 p.m. (LIVE STATS / LIVE VIDEO)
No. 4 Mount St. Joseph vs. No. 1 Rose-Hulman, 8 p.m. (LIVE STATS / LIVE VIDEO)
SATURDAY MAR. 1 - CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (at Hulbert Arena - Rose-Hulman)
Friday Semifinal Winners, 7 p.m. (LIVE STATS / LIVE VIDEO)