Men's basketball drops HCAC first-place game at Rose-Hulman, 74-68

Cam Fails

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team fell victim to a strong shooting performance by Rose-Hulman Wednesday evening, as the Panthers dropped the battle for first place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, 74-68.

With the loss, Hanover falls to 8-4 overall and 3-2 in HCAC competition. Rose-Hulman, behind a .554 field goal percentage -- including a .600 shooting clip in the second half – improves to 8-4 overall and 4-1 in the conference.

Leading the way for the Panthers was senior Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio), who scored 10 points in each half for his team-high 20 points. The senior guard added a team-high six assists, as well as four rebounds and two steals. Fails has now scored 20-plus points in seven straight outings and eight of his last nine games.

Sophomore Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) scored in double figures for the seventh straight game, as he poured in 15 points. Hibbard also paced the Panthers with six rebounds.

Down low, junior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Starting at the other forward position, junior Blake Robertson (Greenfield, Ind.) logged a team-best three steals to go along with seven points and three boards.

Trailing for much of the first half, Hanover found itself in a seven-point hole with just over five minutes to play in the period. The Panthers though, used a 10-0 run to recapture the lead and a Williams jumper at the buzzer capped a 16-5 scoring spurt to put HC in front 37-35.

With the score tied early in the second half, Rose-Hulman used an 8-2 scoring run to go in front 47-41 with 15:08 left to play. Hanover would eventually tie the game at 51-all near the midway point of the half, but the Blue and Red would never regain the lead.

With the score tied, the Fightin' Engineers responded with a 9-2 spurt, leading to a 60-53 edge with 6:57 remaining. Rose-Hulman's lead would grow to as many as 11 points down the stretch.

Despite a double-digit deficit with 30 seconds to play, a layup from Williams, followed by a steal and three-pointer from Fails had HC within five points, 71-66, just eight seconds later. Rose-Hulman though, netted three-of-five free throws, while the Panthers' lone offense came on a Fails layup.

To go along with its advantage in field goal percentage, RHIT outgained HC 37-23 on the glass. The edge led to 14 second chance points and 50 paint points for the Engineers.

Hanover will look to bounce back when the team travels to face Manchester a 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 5.

Contact: Tyler Jester