TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (February 24, 2018) – She may not be one of five starting players for the No. 20-ranked Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women's basketball team, but junior Chiarra Franklin stood tall in helping lead the Engineers to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship with a 57-51 victory over Transylvania University in Hulbert Arena.
Rose-Hulman (24-3) wrapped up its domination of the HCAC this winter, winning all 20 games (regular season and tournament) against conference opponents. The team advances to represent the conference in the NCAA Division III tournament for the second straight season.
Franklin, a 5-foot-9 forward, was named the championship tournament's most valuable player after scoring a team-high 14 points in the final game, and collected 26 points and 15 rebounds across the two games played this weekend. She made back-to-back field goals and a free throw during an important stretch of the third quarter, helping the Engineers maintain a comfortable advantage, 34-26, with 5:28 left in the period.
No. 2-seeded Transylvania (21-6) didn't go down without a fight. The Pioneers slowly chipped away at Rose-Hulman's advantage in the fourth quarter, and came within a basket, at 50-48, with 2:54 remaining following a free throw by reserve Zenoviah Walker. And, the team had a chance to take the lead when guard Shelby Boyle missed a 3-point shot with 1:47 left.
However, Rose-Hulman regained momentum down the stretch with two sets of twin free throws by reserve Taylor Graham and guard Abby Bromenschenkel, two steals from forwards Ally Bromenschenkel and three more free throws in the closing seconds.
Besides Franklin's 14 points, Ally Bromenschenkel had 11 points for an evenly divided Rose-Hulman offense – nine of 10 players scored at least one point. Ally Bromenschenkel and Alyzia Dilworth joined Franklin on the all-tournament team.
Celia Kline had a game-high 19 points to lead Transylvania, while Wooard had 14 and Rachel Cox added 11. Kline and Cox earned all-tournament honors.
INSIDE THE GAME
Rose-Hulman outscored Transylvania 7-to-3 over the last three minutes after the Pioneers had closed to within two points, at 50-48. Two free throws by Taylor Graham gave the team a 52-48 edge, and two more free throws by Abby Bromenschenkel pushed the Engineers' advantage to 54-49. Two steals by Ally Bromenschenkel helped keep the opponent at bay down the stretch. Overall, Rose-Hulman closed out the victory by making seven of its 10 free throws.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Rose-Hulman was threatened on several occasions, but the team never trailed for any time during the two tournament games.
- Both teams shot 33% from the field in the game: Rose-Hulman being 18-of-54; Transylvania at 17-of-51.
- Rose-Hulman has won 34 consecutive games against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opponents, including regular season and tournament games. The team's last loss came at Manchester University on Jan. 7, 2017.
- Rose-Hulman has won at least 24 games in the past two seasons, and had a 71-11 record over the past three seasons.
- Three of Transylvania's six losses this season came against Rose-Hulman, with two setbacks in Terre Haute (57-51 in the HCAC finale and 68-56 on Jan. 27, 2018)
- Transylvania held its HCAC tournament opponents to 7% shooting in the second quarter (2-11, Rose-Hulman; 0-16, Bluffton)
- Reserve junior Chiarra Franklin earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player honor after scoring 26 points and having 15 rebounds across the Engineers' two tournament games.
- Joining Franklin on the HCAC All-Tournament Team were sophomore Alexis Nall of Hanover College, junior Celia Kline and senior Rachel Cox of Transylvania, and juniors Alyzia Dilworth and Ally Bromenschenkel of Rose-Hulman.
- Rose-Hulman was playing in the championship for the third straight season, winning in 2018 and 2017 on its home floor after losing to Bluffton University in the 2016 title game.
- Transylvania played in the championship game for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Rose-Hulman (24-3) will represent the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in the NCAA Division III national tournament. The NCAA will announce the regional sites and tournament pairings on Monday at 2:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.