Rose-Hulman Wins Mutchner Cup, Earns HCAC Bid

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strickland-ecTERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology retained the John Mutchner Cup and qualified for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with a 64-53 victory over Earlham College on Wednesday night.

Rose-Hulman earned the Mutchner Cup for the fifth consecutive year and has now won seven straight meetings over the Quakers. 

The Fightin' Engineers lead the all-time Mutchner Cup series 7-4, named for the former Rose-Hulman men's basketball coach and athletic director who was also a standout athlete at Earlham.  Mutchner has been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at both institutions.

The victory also secured Rose-Hulman a bid to the six-team HCAC Tournament.  The Fightin' Engineers will compete in a first round game on Friday Feb. 24 at Transylvania University against an opponent to be determined.

Junior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) led three Rose-Hulman players in double figures with 16 points.

Sophomore Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) added 13 points and nine rebounds, with junior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) scoring 13 points with three steals.

Colton Bragg led the Earlham offense with 14 points, and Kyle Calder also reached double figures with 10 points.

Rose-Hulman relied on a 12-2 spurt late in the first half to turn a 14-14 tie into a 26-16 lead with 2:17 left in the first half.  Weatherford buried four free throws and scored on a layup, while Strickland and junior Jordy Martin (New Albany) added three-point shots in the run.

Earlham trimmed the margin to six points at 34-28 early in the second half, before a score by Weatherford and a three-pointer by Gerken pushed Rose-Hulman's advantage to 39-28. 

Earlham trimmed the deficit to seven points again at 44-37 with 12:03 left, but Rose-Hulman answered again with a three-pointer by senior Blake Knotts (Louisville, Ky./Christian) at the 9:43 mark to go ahead 51-38.  The Quakers were unable to close within less than nine points in the final five minutes.

Rose-Hulman improved to 16-8 overall and 10-7 in HCAC play, while Earlham dropped to 2-22 and 2-15 in league games.  The Fightin' Engineers host Hanover in the Senior Day regular season finale on Saturday at Hulbert Arena.