ANDERSON — Anderson University’s men’s basketball squad not only took it to Rose-Hulman in the paint and at the free-throw line in Wednesday night’s 72-62 victory.
The Ravens also got in the Engineers’ faces, by way of eight blocked shots by five different players, seven occurring in the second half.
AU’s aggressiveness on both ends paid off with an 11-2 run in the final 2 minutes and 17 seconds, after the Ravens trailed 57-51 with under 6 1/2 minutes to play.
This was a season-best fourth win in a row for AU (11-13, 10-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), which beat second-place Rose-Hulman (16-8, 12-5 HCAC).
“I’m so excited, I can barely talk,” AU coach Owen Handy said. “We did a great job defensively in the second half. I didn’t think we did in the first half.”
The Ravens were down 17-5 five minutes into the game and didn’t lead until 11:30 to go in the contest, when Brady Ashton (Frankton) made two foul shots.
After the Engineers re-took the lead and built it up to six, AU’s leading scorer on the season, Cole Hartman, seized the situation.
Hartman was fouled and made both free tosses to put the Ravens back ahead, 59-58, with 3:09 remaining. After Rose-Hulman got a bucket back, Hartman made a well-defended bank shot at the 2:17 mark, and AU was up 61-60.
AU extended the advantage to 66-60 with three foul makes by Maurice Knight and another tough basket, by Malik Laffoon. A technical foul against Rose-Hulman, after it got to within four, enabled the Ravens to ice it; they scored the final six points at the line.
“We got the ball where we wanted it to go, which is, surprise, surprise, Cole Hartman’s hands,” Handy said. “And Cole did a great job of making decision about when to score and when to move it.”
Hartman, a 6-foot-6 senior, had 17 points and didn’t miss a shot all night — seven field goals and three free throws. He also led the Ravens in blocks with three.
Laffoon also had 17 points, and Knight — another Frankton product — scored 11 and had six rebounds and two rejections.
Others with blocks for AU were Laffoon, Stanley Duncan and Mike Peters. The Ravens stuffed three Engineer shots in the opening minute of the second half, by Hartman, Knight and Duncan.
“We talk about blocked shots being the result of a defensive mistake,” Handy said. “Today, I thought they came because of how we were defending their ball screens. I didn’t think they were the result of mistakes like they normally are, but we’ll take them.”
Another defensive key for the Ravens was keeping Rose-Hulman scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half. AU trailed 40-36 at the break.
AU shot 25-of-49 (51 percent) and 21-for-26 at the line, including 17-of-19 in the second half.
The Ravens (fifth in the HCAC going into Wednesday) wrap up their regular schedule Saturday at home against Transylvania, which shared second with Rose-Hulman). AU has clinched a berth in the six-team HCAC tournament next week.
AU’s women’s team fell 63-35 at Rose-Hulman Wednesday night. It was the sixth straight defeat for the Ravens (9-15, 5-12 HCAC)
Lexi Dellinger had 10 points and Hannah Hawkins (Madison-Grant) eight points and six rebounds for AU.
The AU women close out the season Saturday at home against Transylvania, at 2 p.m. The men’s game follows.