Second half surge sends Panthers past Rose-Hulman for eighth straight win

Matt Weimer

HANOVER, Ind. – Despite a slow start offensively, the Hanover men's basketball team heated up in the second half to rally from a double-digit deficit in a 72-68 win over Rose-Hulman Wednesday evening.

The Panthers improve to 16-4 overall and 11-2 in the HCAC, defeating the Fightin' Engineers (13-7, 9-4 HCAC) in a battle between the top two sides in the league standings. Hanover has now avenged both of its regular season conference losses, lengthening its season-long winning streak to eight games.

After a cold shooting start for both sides, a 7-2 run to close the first half gave the Engineers a two-point advantage at the intermission, 29-27. After RHIT extended its lead early in the second half, junior Blake Robertson (Greenfield, Ind.) tied the game at 37-all with a three-pointer at the 15:53 mark.

Hanover though, went on a five-plus minute scoring drought, as the Fightin' Engineers' pushed their lead to 13 points, 50-37, with 10:31 left to play. The Panthers' and the HCAC's leading scorer, senior Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio), had just five points as HC saw its largest deficit of the night. The senior though, rallied to score of assist on 31 of the Blue and Red's final 35 points to help secure the win and snap a four-game regular season losing streak to RHIT.

Fails tallied 19 of the final 35 Hanover points, while his five helpers turned into 12 points late in the contest. Overall, the guard paced the Panthers with 24 points and 11 assists, giving him his first career double-double. The senior added four rebounds and four steals as well.

Benefitting from the attacking Fails was freshman Matt Weimer (Georgetown, Ind.), who tallied all seven of his points in the final 5:36. A Weimer jumper had HC within one point with a little over five minutes to play. A three-point-play from Fails, followed by a three-pointer from Weimer put HC in front 66-62 with 1:25 remaining.

Hanover would go on to miss the front-end of two one-and-one situations, allowing RHIT to close the gap to 68-66 with 14 seconds left to play. Fails and Weimer though netted all four attempts from the charity stripe late to hold off the Engineer rally.

Junior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) and sophomore Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) joined Fails in double figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Williams, who scored 10 of his points in the first half, finished the contest seven-of-nine from the field and added seven rebounds as well. Hibbard pitched in with three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Receiving his first start of the season, junior Christian Reed (Sellersburg, Ind.) totaled four points, but grabbed eight of his team- and career-high 11 rebounds in the first half. Weimer and freshman Carlos Garcia (Mason, Ohio) provided a spark off the bench, as they helped lead HC to a 17-8 edge in reserve points. Garcia scored six of his eight points in the first half off a pair of three-pointers. Weimer also recorded two blocks in the game, including one late against one of RHIT's top scorers.

After both sides shot under 40 percent in the first half, they each shot over 50 percent in the second half to level out near 44 percent for the contest. Neither side attempted a free throw in the first half and HC owned an eight-point edge at the charity stripe in the second half, where they made 12-of-15 tries.

The Panthers are now enjoying their longest winning streak since a 12-game stretch near the end of the 2016-17 season, which included the team's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Since the start of 2017, HC is also 21-5 during the month of January.

Hanover will look to ride its momentum from January into the second month of the calendar year, as the team travels to face Anderson this Saturday, Feb. 2, for a 4 p.m. contest.

Contact: Tyler Jester