TERRE HAUTE, IND.- Rose-Hulman is touting this season as the "Farewell to an Old Friend" in reference to their last season in Shook Fieldhouse. A more fitting motto for the Tigers may be "good riddance to an old nemesis". The Old Gold lost for the fifth straight time in Terre Haute on Wednesday by a 70-57 score.
The loss dropped the Tigers to 10-9 overall and 3-4 in the Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference and Rose-Hulman improved to 14-6 and 6-2.
The Engineers outplayed the Tigers in every aspect - shooting, rebounding and defending. Add to that a nearly flawless second half and it made for a long night for the Tigers.
Tiger Coach Bill Fenlon, who coached three Rose-Hulman teams in the Fieldhouse and knows of its magic, will be one of the first to push the Engineers into their new facility next year. In a rivalry where home court seems to mean everything Fenlon does think that the "Shook" factor is important.
"I certainly think it (home court advantage) applies here," Fenlon said. "The lighting, the background, the floor- it's surreal. Next year will tell the tale."
The early prospects for the Tigers looked dimmer than the fieldhouse lighting as they quickly fell behind 7-0 and 14-2 in sharp contrast to the 17-12 halftime score on January 8 in Greencastle. Fortunately Ryan Hooker was on fire or the Tigers may have been buried early. Hooker scored the Old Gold's first 12 points and brought the Tigers back to just a 16-12 deficit.
"Ryan Hooker was unbelievable," Rose-Hulman coach Jim Shaw said. "He single-handedly got them back in the game."
A three-point play from Jack Kidd made it 16-15 with 7:21 left in the half. The Engineers stretched the lead back to seven, but a Hooker dunk and a bench technical on the Engineers made it a three-point game at the 3:07 mark. A beautiful spinning layup by Brad Stevens at the end of the half gave DePauw just its second lead at 27-26.
The second half featured Rose-Hulman at its Shook Fieldhouse best. After regaining the lead, they gradually extended it. Troy Halt and Kent Murphy combined for the first 10 points of the half and were unstoppable, but the Tigers were staying close at 36-32. Joe Puthoff got the lead to five with a three, but Brad Stevens answered with a trey of his own to make it 39-37. The Tigers couldn't put points on the board over the next two minutes and it cost them as the Engineers scored six straight to take a 47-39 advantage. The Tigers got no closer than six the rest of the way as Rose-Hulman led by as many as 15 down the stretch.
Fenlon thought the Tigers could penetrate against the Engineers which they did, but the end result wasn't what they wanted. "We're not strong at the end of the drives," Fenlon said. We don't get fouled, we don't make the shots. We just weren't poised.
Rose shot an amazing 68 percent from the floor in the second half and 54 percent for the game and crushed the Tigers on the boards by a 37-21 count. The second half numbers had Rose-Hulman outrebounding the Tigers 19-7. Hooker led all scorers with 26 and Stevens chipped in with 16. Halt led four double-figure scorers for Rose-Hulman with 21 followed by Bryan Egli with 14, Kent Murphy with 12 and Patrick Grace with 11. Murphy and Halt combined to equal the Tigers' total of 21 rebounds as the former had 13 and the latter eight.
The Tigers hope to draw even in conference play and stay in fourth place when the y host Anderson on Saturday at 3 p.m. The alumni game is scheduled for 11 a.m.