News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rose-Hulman

December 2, 2010

Rose-Hulman depth, hustle too much for Franklin

Engineer bench scores 36 in HCAC opener

TERRE HAUTE — In a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener for both teams, Rose-Hulman’s depth and hustle proved to be the difference Wednesday against Franklin in Hulbert Arena.

The Engineers’ reserves posted 36 points, led by dynamic freshman Julian Strickland’s 17, to help Rose-Hulman pull out an 84-78 victory that puts the team 4-1 overall.

As for the hustle plays, Brenton Balsbaugh’s offensive rebounds down the stretch helped contribute to Rose-Hulman’s 23 second-chance points.

Sophomore guard Austin Weatherford poured in a career-high 22 points for the Engineers, including a jump shot to put Rose-Hulman ahead 68-62 with two minutes, 25 seconds left in the game.

“I just thought we stayed together and realy locked down on defense in the second half. We came together as a team, that’s the biggest thing,” Weatherford said.

Nate Gissentanner added 14 points despite foul trouble.

“Today, we showed a lot of character. We fought through adversity, and in the end we came out on top,” Gissentanner said.

Following Weatherford’s shot, coach Jim Shaw’s deep bench continued to make plays. 

Jon Gerken, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, made a decisive drive and hit two free throws to keep the Engineers’ lead at five points. Strickland drove the baseline, was undercut by Franklin standout Will Conoley, and converted a 3-point play to stretch that lead to six.

Balsbaugh, another 6-6 sophomore, followed up Gerken, who missed a breakaway dunk. Balsbaugh converted and went to the line, where he missed the foul shot. But he followed his shot and got a hand on a Franklin pass, making a Grizzlies’ comeback improbable with less than a minute to play.

Balsbaugh had four offensive rebounds. His rebound of a Weatherford miss resulted in Blake Knotts’ only 3-pointer of the night on the kickout pass.

“Our motto from the first practice is team success is all that matters. We’re trying to instill the idea and concept that it really doesn’t matter who. We got good contributions from our bench,” Shaw said.

Knotts’ trey put his team ahead 66-62, ending a long stretch of one-point leads by both teams.

Franklin shot 48.1 percent in the second half, but a team defensive effort held Franklin’s stout 15 point-per-game scorer, Conoley, to 6-of-14 shooting from the field in the game.

Gissentanner was instrumental in the first half for Rose-Hulman, scoring eight points on 4-for-5 shooting, until picking up two fouls. He was impressed by the young players contributing to the team’s success.

Freshman James Pillischafske chipped in five points, knocking down a second-half 3-pointer and cutting and converting inside off one of Weatherford’s five assists.

“Our young guys, they work real hard,” Gissentanner said. “Early today, [Pillischafske] came in, asked me when I’m coming in to shoot. I like that. Our freshman have a lot of work ethic.”

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