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Men's Basketball Remains in HCAC Lead with OT Win at Bluffton

Men's Basketball Remains in HCAC Lead with OT Win at Bluffton

BLUFFTON, Ohio -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology used a 19-2 run to rally from a 10-point second half deficit, before battling to an 83-75 overtime victory in men's basketball action at Bluffton University on Saturday afternoon.

Rose-Hulman placed five players in double figures, including two career-high scoring efforts, to win its 13th game in its last 14 contests.  The victory allowed the Fightin' Engineers to maintain a 1-game lead in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball standings at 12-2 in league play.

Freshman Craig McGee led Rose-Hulman's five players in double figures with 20 points and a team-high nine assists.  Sophomore Ryuji Aoki buried four three-pointers, including back-to-back threes during the mid-second half rally, to score 14 points.

Two sophomores relied on career-high scoring performances to balance the scoring attack.  Eli Combs scored 12 points on 6-8 from the field with six rebounds.  Michael Lake added 11 points on 3-4 from the field, a pair of three-pointers, and a perfect 3-3 on the foul line.  Junior Charlie Aimone rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points.

Other key contributors for the Engineers included Nick McGrail with seven points and 11 rebounds; and Stephen Schueth with five points and two assists.

Justis Dowdy led three Bluffton players in double figures with 17 points.  Kevin Christie added 16 points and Andrew Renner contributed 13 points for a Bluffton squad that earlier this season handed Rose-Hulman its only loss over the last 14 contests.

Bluffton looked to complete the regular season sweep by earning a 10-point lead at 51-41 midway through the second half.  Rose-Hulman answered with a 19-2 run over five minutes, with back-to-back threes from Aoki giving the Fightin' Engineers a lead at 56-53.  Lake added a three-pointer and McGee scored two field goals in the rally.

Rose-Hulman appeared to secure the game near the end of regulation, taking a 69-64 lead on a three-pointer with 1:38 remaining.  Bluffton answered with a conventional three-pointer from Christie and a layup from Dowdy at the 11-second mark to tie the score at 69-69.  McGee missed a potential game winning three at the buzzer and the teams battled on for five extra minutes.

McGee and Aoki took over the overtime for Rose-Hulman, scoring the team's first seven points to build a 76-71 lead after a three-pointer by Aoki and a layup by McGee at the 2:05 mark. McGrail knocked home another trey to push the Engineer lead to 79-73 with 1:26 remaining.

Bluffton was unable to close within less than six points the rest of the way, as the Fightin' Engineers relied on 51% shooting for the game to earn the win.

Rose-Hulman improved to 14-7 overall and 12-2 in league play with the win.  After starting the season at 1-6, Rose-Hulman has rallied with 13 wins in its last 14 games to secure a winning season under head coach Rusty Loyd for the fourth consecutive year.  Bluffton dropped to 9-12 overall and 6-8 in conference play.  The Beavers currently sit fifth in the conference, and six teams will qualify for the league tournament later this month.