HCAC Tourney Preview: Women's Basketball vs. Franklin

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Fueled by a two-game winning streak to cap the regular season, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women’s basketball team earned a berth into the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the fourth-straight year under eighth-year head coach Jon Prevo.

The six-seed Fightin’ Engineers (10-15, 8-10 HCAC) will take on the three-seed Franklin College (13-12, 11-7) beginning at 8 p.m. Friday in the HCAC Tournament first round at Transylvania University’s Beck Center in Lexington, Ky.

The winner of Friday’s game will face No. 2 seed Hanover College (16-9, 14-4) in the HCAC semifinals Saturday at 5 p.m. Host Transylvania, the No. 1 seed, will face the winner of the Manchester/Bluffton game beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Sunday’s championship game is set for 2 p.m. at the Beck Center.

Rose-Hulman defeated Mount St. Joseph 58-51 Saturday in Cincinnati to clinch the sixth seed, led by 16 points from senior Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), who along with fellow senior Jaci Dalton (Hamilton, Mich./Black River), has reached the conference tournament every season in their career.

Ploof leads the Engineers in scoring and rebounding with 9.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Freshman Abbie Marshall (St. Louis, Mo./Nerinx Hall) added 11 points in Saturday’s victory, as the guard has scored in double figures in six of the last seven contests.

Friday’s contest will mark the third time this season Rose-Hulman has faced off with the Grizzlies, the latest a 65-61 victory for RHIT in Terre Haute Feb. 19. Junior Carrie Morris (Altadena, Calif./Mayfield) had a breakout performance in the win, scoring a career-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Franklin won the first matchup, 51-31, holding the Engineers to just 13 field goals.

The Grizzlies sustained two setbacks to end the regular season, losing first in Terre Haute and then in a 62-60 heartbreaker at Defiance Saturday. Six-foot-2 sophomore Katie Brewer leads Franklin in both scoring and rebounding at 11.3 points and 8.4 boards per contest, while both Lauren DeSutter (10.6 ppg) and Nichole Thompson (10.5 ppg) add double-figure scoring.  

Franklin leads the all-time series with Rose-Hulman, 18-9, which started in 1996. Rose-Hulman has now reached the HCAC tournament six times under eighth-year head coach Jon Prevo. The Engineers, former members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, have reached 11 overall conference postseason tournaments.

Live stats and live video will be available for all the tournament games. For live stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/transy/wbball/xlive.htm

For live video: http://www.ihigh.com/transy/index.html