TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology rallied from a 14-point deficit to take the lead in the second half, before Indiana University-South Bend responded to earn a 54-51 women's basketball victory in the season opener for the Fightin' Engineers.
IU-South Bend improved to 6-1 on the season with its fourth straight victory. Emily Strilich and Maegan Callaway had 12 points each, and Nichole Sly contributed 10 points for the Titans.
Senior Lauren Meadows (Indianapolis/Brebeuf) led all scorers with 15 points on four three-pointers. Junior Gracie Gibbs (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) added 12 points, and sophomore Carrie Morris (Altadena, Calif./Mayfield) also reached double figures with 11 points.
Other key contributors included senior Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville) with eight points and seven rebounds, and senior Sheree Williams (Bluffton, S.C.) with five assists and four rebounds.
IU-South Bend jumped out to a 25-11, before Rose-Hulman closed the first half on an 8-0 run over the last 2:30 to close within 25-19 at the break. Morris and Meadows opened the run with field goals, Morris buried a three-pointer and freshman Jamie Loving (Normal, Ill./West) closed the spurt with a free throw.
In the second half, IU-South Bend maintained a four-point lead at 35-31 with 11:45 remaining, before Rose-Hulman responded to take the lead at 36-35 on a layup by Gibbs with 8:50 left. The Titans answered with six straight points to regain a 42-36 advantage.
Rose-Hulman rallied to within two points at 44-42 on a three-pointer by Meadows with six minutes left, but IU-South Bend gained two more six-point leads down the stretch.
The Fightin' Engineers closed to within two at 53-51 with seven seconds left on a layup by Ploof. Sly gave the Titans a 54-51 lead with one free throw at the 3.5 second mark, and Rose-Hulman's last chance full court pass was stolen to secure the IU-South Bend win.
Rose-Hulman returns to action against Fairleigh Dickinson-Florham next Friday at 8 p.m. in the Wilmington College Invitational.