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.
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.