HANOVER, Ind. – Behind a career-high scoring performance from junior Alexis Nall (Mount Vernon, Ind.), the Hanover women's basketball team defeated Rose-Hulman at home Wednesday evening, 65-62, snapping the Engineers' 38-game winning streak against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opponents.
Rose-Hulman's streak, which spanned nearly two years of conference regular season and tournament games, entered Wednesday's contest as the fifth longest in NCAA Division III.
The Panthers (8-4, 4-1 HCAC) were led by Nall's 29 points, which ties a career-best, a performance she orginally set against Rose-Hulman in the 2018 HCAC Tournament semifinals. The junior netted 13-of-20 field goals (.650), while also grabbing 13 rebounds and recording four steals defensively.
Most of Nall's damage on the glass came on the offensive end, where she tallied nine boards. Overall, the two sides tied with 37 rebounds, but HC turned 20 offensive boards into 12 second chance points.
Leading for most of the contest, the Blue and Red found themselves down one late, before a three-pointer by junior Maleha Motter (Danville, Ind.) put them up 58-57. A Nall layup on the following possession would give HC the lead for good, as the team held a 60-59 edge with 1:34 showing on the clock.
Key free throws from Claire Cromer (Wabash, Ind.), as well as a late offensive rebound by the senior, helped secure the win for the Panthers. Nall also notched one of her steals in the closing seconds to assist defensively.
Motter and Cromer each put up eight points. The junior forward added 13 rebounds, four steals and four assists. Cromer logged a team-best six steals, as the Blue and Red forced 23 Rose-Hulman turnovers, resulting in 26 Hanover points.
Overall, Hanover's starters accounted for 58 of the team's 65 points, as juniors Katie Hartman (Madison, Ind.) and Brooke Todd (Vevay, Ind.) pitched in with seven and six points, respectively. Todd also tied Motter for the team-high in helpers.
Nall was key in sparking an early-game run for the Panthers, as they rattled of a 13-2 spurt to assist in a 15-8 edge at the end of the first quarter. Despite shooting just over 20 percent in the first quarter, HC forced 12 Rose-Hulman (7-5, 4-1 HCAC) turnovers.
An 8-2 run to start the second quarter gave the Panthers their largest lead of the night, 13 points, at 23-10, with 7:18 left to play in the half. The Fightin' Engineers pulled within four points before HC led by nine at the break, 34-25.
Hanover's largest lead of the second half came near the end of the third frame, as another 8-2 spurt had the Blue and Red in front 47-36 with 2:11 remaining in the period. Rose-Hulman though, rallied to close its deficit to four points heading into the final stanza, 47-43.
The fourth quarter featured 10 of the game's 11 lead changes, as well as four of the six ties. Hanover made 9-of-16 free throw attempts in the final period to stave off the RHIT comeback.
The Panthers and Engineers now find themselves in a three-way tie for first place with Transylvania in the HCAC standings. The three teams were picked as the top three favorites in the HCAC preseason coaches poll.
Hanover will look to keep pace atop the league standings when they travel to face Manchester at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 5.
Contact: Tyler Jester