News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rose-Hulman

December 11, 2011

Rose-Hulman sweeps conference doubleheader from Bluffton

TERRE HAUTE — For Rose-Hulman basketball fans, the one-hour delay was worth the wait Saturday.

Even though the 1 p.m. women’s game pitting the previously winless Engineers vs. Bluffton University didn’t start until 2 because of confusion over what time the officials should show up, most spectators enjoyed seeing the Rose women emerge with a 61-49 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory inside Hulbert Arena.

After that, Rose-Hulman’s men improved their records to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the HCAC by defeating the Beavers from Ohio 61-49 behind 20 points from junior Austin Weatherford.

The Engineers also received offensive support from James Pillischafske with 13 points and Julian Strickland and reserve Jon Gerken with 12 apiece. In addition, Pillischafske grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds and Weatherford contributed four steals and three assists.

“He’s an all-conference player [from last season] for a reason,” Rose men’s coach Jim Shaw said of the 6-foot-2 Weatherford. “He didn’t have a great start to the season. But in the last couple weeks, he’s gotten back on track.”

Bluffton’s top scorer was Josh Fisher, who came off the bench to post 16 points.

Rose-Hulman jumped ahead 9-4 on a 3-pointer by Pillischafske, but the Beavers battled to catapult on top 13-11 and 15-14.

A 3 by Mychal Hill gave Bluffton a 20-17 lead with 7:12 left in the first half, then the home teams rattled off six unanswered points — two free throws by Gerken, a pull-up jumper from the lane by Strickland and a basket off a nice move inside by Gerken — to surge ahead 23-20 with 5:34 remaining.

Hill bombed in a trey with one second to go, giving the Beavers a 30-27 halftime advantage. Bluffton’s final lead of the day came at 33-31 early in the second half, then Rose went to work. Its largest margin was the final score, resulting from Pillischafske’s two free throws with 17 seconds left.

“Playing Bluffton is like playing tug-o-war with a chew toy and a doberman,” Shaw emphasized. “I mean, they just won’t give up. They just grab a hold and won’t let up. They’re very physical and they play extremely hard.”

In the women’s game, Alisa Dickerson paced the Engineers with 18 points and 12 boards, while Sheree Williams, Heather Finnell and Kelsey Ploof added 13, 11 and 10 points respectively.

“Alisa’s a leader for us all the time,” Rose women’s coach Jon Prevo pointed out.

Bluffton’s only double-figure scorer was Lauren Hutton with 11 points.

Rose-Hulman took a 30-24 lead into the second half and padded its cushion to 39-29. But Bluffton rallied behind a 12-0 run to seize a 41-39 advantage.

The Engineers answered the challenge, however, and chalked up their first HCAC win of the season.

“We didn’t lose our mental focus,” Prevo noted. “We actually showed some mental fortitude today.

Coming off a hard-fought 46-43 loss at Manchester on Wednesday and this triumph over Bluffton on Saturday, Prevo thinks the Engineers might be starting to turn the corner on their season.

“We’re not going to win a lot of beauty contests with our talent,” he assessed, “so we’re going to have go out and outwork people.”

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