TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology earned a key Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball victory in the race for the final spot in this year's tournament with a 49-43 win over Earlham on Wednesday.
The Fightin' Engineers improved to 12-12 on the season and 8-9 in HCAC play with the victory. Rose-Hulman needs either a win at Hanover on Saturday, a loss by Manchester on Saturday, or a loss by Bluffton on Saturday to earn a bid to the HCAC Tournament.
Sophomore Gracie Gibbs (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) led the Rose-Hulman offense with 12 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Carrie Morris (Altadena, Calif./Mayfield) also reached double figures with 11 points.
Junior Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville) scored nine points, and sophomore Sheree Williams (Bluffton, S.C.) came off the bench with seven points in a balanced attack. Freshman Cassidy Cain (Noblesville) also provided support with a career-high six assists.
Kasin Spay led the Earlham offense with 12 points. Emily Sells contributed eight points for the Quakers.
Rose-Hulman shot 40% from the field and held Earlham to 33% for the game to earn the victory. The two teams battled early in the first half to a 12-12 tie, before the Engineers relied on two three-pointers from Morris to take a 20-16 edge.
The lead reached 26-20 in favor of Rose-Hulman at the break, and the Engineers pushed the margin to 10 points at 37-27 on a layup by Williams at the 10:55 mark. Earlham rallied to within three points at 40-37, but Rose-Hulman withstood the challenge with a 9-2 run over the game's final six minutes to secure the victory.
Rose-Hulman travels to Hanover on Saturday in the regular season finale. A win would also bring Rose-Hulman its fourth .500 or above season in women's basketball program history.