TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology senior Austin Weatherford (Cicero/Hamilton Heights) buried a 21-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime, before the Fightin' Engineers battled to a 67-64 men's basketball victory over Bluffton University on Saturday at Hulbert Arena.
Bluffton senior Josh Fisher buried two free throws with 2.6 seconds left in regulation to give the Beavers a 57-54 lead. Following two timeouts, senior Jon Gerken (Defiance, Ohio/Tinora) launched a three-quarter court pass to Weatherford, who caught the ball in front of the Rose-Hulman bench with 2.0 seconds left and called the team's final timeout.
Senior Nate Gissentanner (Conyers, Ga./Rockdale County) inbounded the ball to Weatherford, who was tightly guarded in front of the Fightin' Engineer bench. Weatherford battled to get the 21-foot three-point shot away, then watched as the ball swished through the net at the buzzer to tie the score at 57-57 to force the extra session.
In the overtime, Bluffton regained the lead at 62-61 on a three-pointer by Billy Taflinger at the 2:06 mark. Rose-Hulman answered with a dunk by senior Brenton Balsbaugh (Greenville, Ohio/Arcanum) and a layup by Gerken to regain the lead at 65-62 with 54 seconds left.
Tyler Neal drove in traffic to score with 22 seconds left and bring Bluffton within 65-64. Bluffton then forced a turnover and had another chance to win.
Fisher missed a shot in the lane with six seconds remaining, but the rebound went out of bounds off Rose-Hulman and the Beavers retained possession. Rose-Hulman forced a five-second call on the ensuing inbounds play to get the ball with 2.6 seconds left.
Junior James Pillischafske (Louisville, Ky./Male) buried two free throws at the 2.0 second mark to give Rose-Hulman a 67-64 lead. Fisher attempted a last second off-balance three at the buzzer that fell off the backboard as the Engineers secured their 15th win.
Weatherford scored 19 points, and junior Julian Strickland (Indianapolis/Pike) also reached double figures with 15 points for Rose-Hulman. Strickland also led the team with four assists.
Gissentanner added nine points off the bench, with Pillischafske pitching with seven points. Balsbaugh and Gerken tallied six points each.
Will Pope led the Bluffton offense with 16 points, and Josh Johnson scored 10. Dustin Kinn contributed eight points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Beavers.
Rose-Hulman led 28-24 at the break, before Bluffton shot 63% in the second half to take the late lead. The Fightin' Engineers finished 4-5 from the field in overtime to provide the offensive spark.
Rose-Hulman improved to 15-2 on the season and 9-1 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play with the victory. The Fightin' Engineers still lead Hanover and Transylvania by one game in the league standings. Bluffton stands 7-10 overall and 3-7 in HCAC action.
Rose-Hulman returns to action in a rare Thursday night home game against Manchester.
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