DEFIANCE, Ohio -- Three players scored in double figures and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women's basketball team picked up its third straight victory with a 63-57 win over Defiance College in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday.
The Fightin' Engineers improve to 6-7 overall and 4-2 in the HCAC, while the Yellow Jackets dropped to 4-9, 1-5.
RHIT senior Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) reached double figures for the fifth straight game with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. She added four rebounds, three assists and two steals in the game. Ploof was also a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line, including two with 27.9 seconds to play to seal the win.
Junior Sheree Williams (Bluffton, S.C.) added a season-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and freshman Jamie Loving (Normal, Ill./Normal West) added 10 points on a perfect 5-for-5 performance from the floor. The 10 points for Loving also marked a career high.
Rose-Hulman led 33-32 at halftime and trailed just once in the second half, 34-33, with 19:45 to play when Defiance's Megan Zachrich opened the second period with a jumper.
The Engineers regained the lead on a Williams triple on the next possession and led by as many as seven points with 8:20 to play after a Williams steal and fastbreak layup.
The Yellow Jackets responded with four straight points to cut the lead to three, but RHIT freshman Ava Paruleski (Shumway, Ill./Beecher City) drained a deep 3 in the corner to push the lead back to six (58-52) with 6:35 to play.
Ploof made a big bucket in the lane and Williams made 1-of-2 from the line before Ploof drained two free throws in the final seconds to seal it.
Ploof scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in a back-and-forth first half that featured several lead changes. A Carrie Morris (Altadena, Calif./Mayfield) 3-pointer gave the Engineers a 7-4 lead with 16:43 to play in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets would execute a 14-2 run over the next six minutes to build a nine-point lead (18-9) at the 11:56 mark.
The Engineers, led by two buckets each by Ploof and Loving, answered with a 15-run of their own, as Loving's layup at the 4:16 mark tied the game at 24-all.
Williams drained a triple from the wing with 29 seconds left and the Engineers defense held strong in the final seconds to give RHIT the slim halftime lead, 33-32.
The Engineers shot 55.3 percent (26-of-47) for the game, including a 65.2 percent (15-of-23) performance in the first half. It was the first time RHIT shot 55 percent from the field for a game since its 58.1 percent performance against Anderson Jan. 30, 2013.
Defiance was held to 44.9 percent shooting from the field and the Engineers held the rebounding edge, 27-24.
Rose-Hulman, behind the defense of Ploof, Loving and freshman Josie Schmidt (Eighty Four, Pa./Ringgold) also held the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer, 6-foot-3 freshman Kesley Tietje, to just seven points on 2-of-5 shooting. The freshman entered the contest averaging 17.7 points per game.
Zachrich led Defiance with 16 points as the lone Yellow Jacket to reach double figures.
Rose-Hulman travels to Franklin College Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup before returning home to face Mount St. Joseph Saturday, Jan. 18 at Hulbert Arena.