ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- A historic Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women's basketball season ended with a narrow 57-54 loss to 24th ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Washington University (Mo.) on Friday night.
Rose-Hulman completed the season with a 24-4 record, its first trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament, its first Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship, and the first outright HCAC regular season title in program history.
Rose-Hulman narrowly missed a chance to put the game into overtime. Trailing 56-54, Rose-Hulman had one last possession with 21.4 seconds remaining. The Fightin' Engineers had four shots at the basket to tie the game, crashing the boards in a scramble that ended with a last opportunity to tie the game by sophomore Ally Bromenschenkel. The shot fell just short with 0.2 seconds left as Wheaton advanced to the second round.
Bromenschenkel was Rose-Hulman's leading scorer on the season and the evening with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Josie Schmidt also reached double figures with 13 points and eight rebounds. Alyzia Dilworth pitched in with nine points, and Taylor Graham scored eight for the Fightin' Engineers.
Katie McDaniels led Wheaton with 15 points and seven assists. Kelly Lawson also reached double figures for the Thunder with 12 points.
Wheaton led by as many as 10 points in the second half, taking a 39-29 edge midway through the third quarter. Rose-Hulman methodically rallied, finally taking the lead at 48-47 on two free throws by Dilworth with 6:40 remaining.
The Fightin' Engineers regained the lead at 50-49 on two free throws by Schmidt with 5:49 left. Wheaton responded to push its lead to 55-52 with 2:39 left, coming on the brink of gaining control.
Rose-Hulman answered with two key defensive stops and a Bromenschenkel basket with 53 seconds left to cut the margin to 55-54. McDaniels hit one of two free throws with 21 seconds left, setting the stage for the Fightin' Engineers last chance.
Rose-Hulman won 14 consecutive games to close the regular season and HCAC Tournament and finished with a 20-2 record during December, January, February and March. The Fightin' Engineers graduate just two seniors, Schmidt and Abbie Marshall, from this year's squad.