TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Late game heroics from junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) for the second straight outing were not enough to overcome a cold shooting night, as the Hanover men's basketball team fell at Rose-Hulman, in overtime, Wednesday evening, 68-66.
Trailing by as many as 12 points in the game and eight points late, a three-pointer from Fails with five seconds remaining in regulation tied the contest at 59-all, which marked the first tie of the game since it was 5-5 at 17:09 mark of the opening half.
With both teams knowing the HCAC standing implications Wednesday night's affair had, the two sides combined to call five timeouts in the last five seconds of regulation. After an offensive foul and turnover by Rose-Hulman (13-7, 11-2 HCAC), HC had possession near mid court with 0.9 seconds remaining on the clock. Junior Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) caught the ball in the post, turned to his right and netted a jump hook for what would have been the game-winner if time had not already expired.
During the overtime period, White bounced back with a layup at the 3:10 mark to tie the score at 61-61 and a jumper from senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) 40 seconds later knotted the game at 63-all. Over the final five seconds of regulation and overtime period, there were three ties.
Hanover however, found itself on the wrong side of a 5-0 scoring spurt after McKinney's jumper, falling behind 68-63 with 1:22 left to play. The Blue and Red netted 3-of-4 free throw attempts late to pull with two points, 68-66, with six seconds remaining.
Shades of HC's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game at Hope (Mich.) last season, which saw the team earn a steal in the closing seconds prior to a game-winning jump shot, it looked as though Fails was going to give the Panthers that opportunity again. Fails' attempted swipe though went out of bounds with just over five seconds showing on the game clock. Rose-Hulman's next inbounds pass was a long heave down the court, finding an open Engineer, as they ran out the clock, securing sole possession of first place in the HCAC and snapping Hanover's seven-game winning streak.
Fails scored over 20 points for the fifth time in the past six games, tallying a team high 25 points. The junior is now two points shy of becoming the next Hanover men's basketball player to reach 1,000 for his career. He also set a career high in steals Wednesday with six, while adding three assists and three rebounds as well.
White and McKinney also ended in double figures, logging 13 and 10 points respectively. The two combined to score 14 of their 26 points in the second half and overtime. White set a career high in rebounds, 11, and assists, four, while also tying a personal best in blocks with three.
Freshman Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) helped spark a late first half run to help the Panthers climb back into the ball game, scoring 10 of his 12 points over the first 20 minutes of action. Hibbard made 5-of-8 field goal attempts to give him his fifth double-digit scoring effort of the season.
Hanover's lone lead came on the opening possession of the game when White made a layup, giving the squad a 2-0 advantage. The Fightin' Engineers rattled off 14 of the next 17 points to take a 14-5 lead a little over five minutes in.
Spending most of the first half with a field goal percentage in the 20's, the Panthers made seven of their final 10 tries to close their halftime deficit to four points at 34-30.
The Blue and Red finished the game with .397 shooting clip. After a hot start, which saw them shoot 54.2 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from deep in the opening half, Rose-Hulman ended with .473 and .455 shooting marks respectively. After RHIT made 8-of-11 three-point tries in the first half, the Panthers held the Engineers to a 2-for-11 effort over the final 25 minutes of play.
Hanover will look to bounce back Saturday, Feb. 3, when they host Anderson for a 2 p.m. tip inside Collier Arena.
Contact: Tyler Jester