Panthers edged in HCAC championship

Hanover College’s men’s basketball squad fell to the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 64-59, in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s championship game, Saturday, Feb. 23, in Terre Haute, Ind.

Sophomore guard Tim Bass (Indianapolis, Ind.) scored 12 points to lead Hanover and was named to the all-tournament team. Senior guard Ryan Nowicki (Westfield, Ind.) added 10 points for the Panthers, which dipped to 18-9 with the setback.

Brenton Balsbaugh, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, posted 17 and three blocked shots to power Rose-Hulman to its third win of the season against the Panthers. Julian Strickland added 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Engineers (24-3).

The teams were tied at 50-50 before Strickland landed a three-pointer to nudge Rose-Hulman ahead 53-50 with 5:08 to play.

Strickland fed Balsbaugh for a bucket inside to give the Engineers a 55-50 lead with 3:15 to go.

Bass hit two free throws to trim the margin to 55-52 with 3:06 left and added two more from the line with 2:06 on the clock to pull Hanover within 55-54.

Balsbaugh scored from in the paint with 1:18 left, but senior forward Brian Gunter (Louisville, Ky.) nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 57-57 with 1:18 to play.

Strickland scored and Austin Weatherford added two free throws to eventually push Rose-Hulman ahead 61-57 with 34 seconds on the clock.

Nowicki scored to get the Panthers within 61-59 with 19 seconds left, but Strickland made a pair from the charity stripe with 16 seconds on the clock as Rose-Hulman regained its four-point lead (63-59).

Hanover, with a chance to cut the Engineers’ lead in half in the closing seconds, missed a field-goal attempt before Jon Gerken added a free throw with five seconds left for the final margin.

Hanover shot 50 percent from the field in the first half (14-of-28) and finished the game 24-of-52 (46.2%).

Rose-Hulman, meanwhile, hit 22-of-50 field goals (44%), including a 10-of-18 effort (55.6%) in the second period.

The Engineers were 14-of-17 from the charity stripe (82.4%). The Panthers were 6-of-9 from the line (66.7%).

The appearance in the Heartland Conference title bout was the second in three years and sixth overall for Hanover. The Panthers are now 3-3 in championship games.

Hanover at Rose-Hulman statistics