BLUFFTON, Ohio -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology outscored Bluffton University 31-17 in the second half, but could not overcome a 20-point halftime deficit in a 52-46 loss to the Beavers in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament championship game on Saturday.
Rose-Hulman compiled a 23-4 record during the 2015-16 season and set a school record with 18 consecutive wins prior to the loss to Bluffton in the conference tourney final. The NCAA Division III did not select the Fightin' Engineers for an at-large bid, despite the best season in school history.
In the title game, Rose-Hulman was down by 16 at the end of the first quarter, and the halftime socre was 35-15 in favor of Bluffton. The Beavers shot 44% from the field versus Rose-Hulman's 25% in the first half.
Rose-Hulman rallied to start out the third quarter by outscoring the Beavers 19-7, and eventually outscored Bluffton 31-17 in the second half before falling six points shy.
Junior Josie Schmidt led the balanced Rose-Hulman scoring attack with 10 points and a career-high eight blocked shots for the Engineers. Freshman Ally Bromenschenkel also tallied eight points and four rebounds in the loss.
Josie Schmidt and sophomore Alyzia Dilworth were named to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Tournament team.
Bluffton earned its first HCAC Tournament title with a balanced scoring attack. Tournament Most Valuable Player Kaitlyn Pennekamp led the Beavers with 14 points, and Macey Sheerer scored 10 for Bluffton.
Bluffton earned the HCAC automatic bid after improving to 25-2 overall and will face Wisconsin-Whitewater at Washington University in St. Louis to open the NCAA Tournament on Friday.