Freshmen Lead Women's Basketball to Win Over Defiance

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Behind two breakout performances from a pair of freshmen, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology women's basketball team held on to defeat Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Defiance College, 69-59, Saturday at Hulbert Arena.

Six-foot-3 freshman forward Josie Schmidt (Eighty Four, Pa./Ringgold) was two shy of her career high with a game-high 17 points. She added five rebounds and a block in an 8-for-14 performance from the field. Classmate Abbie Marshall (St. Louis, Mo./Nerinx Hall) had one of her best games of the season, totaling a career-best 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go along with seven boards, five assists and four steals with only one turnover.

After playing to a 27-27 deadlock at the half, the Engineers (8-11, 6-6 HCAC) began to pull away with around eight minutes to play in the contest. With Defiance holding onto a one-point lead (40-39) with 11:11 left, Rose-Hulman went on a 17-2 run to take its largest lead of the game, 56-42, with 5:07 remaining.

The Engineers held Defiance (7-12, 4-8 HCAC) scoreless for more than four minutes during the run, which included two Schmidt baskets, a Kristen Belyea (Mahomet, Ill./Mahomet Seymour) 3-pointer, and a Jamie Loving (Normal, Ill./Normal West) layup.

Defiance used a full-court press and a 6-for-7 performance at the free-throw line to cut the lead to seven, 66-59, with 37 seconds remaining, but Marshall drilled two free throws with 20 seconds left to seal the victory.

Rose-Hulman opened the game on a tear, as the Engineers raced to a 9-2 lead behind layups from Sheree Williams (Bluffton, S.C./Bluffton), Lauren Meadows (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebeuf), Marshall, plus a Williams' triple, forcing Defiance to call a timeout.

Schmidt then drained a jumper followed by two 3's from Ava Paruleski (Shumway, Ill./Beecher City) and Belyea to give the Engineers a 10-point lead, 17-7, with 14:35 to play.

The Yellow Jacket responded with a run of their own, holding Rose-Hulman without a basket for the next four minutes during a 13-0 run that gave Defiance a one-point edge, 20-17.

The visitors pushed their lead to three, 27-24, with 1:43 to play, before Paruleski drained an off-balance triple at the shot clock buzzer to tie it at 27-all heading into the break.

Belyea finished with eight points and Williams added seven points and three assists for the Engineers, who outshot Defiance, hitting 43.9 percent (25-for-57), compared to 41.7 percent (20-for-48) for the Yellow Jackets. Rose-Hulman also won the rebounding the battle, 36-29.

Ashley Birchmeier led Defiance with 12 points and Kim Bingley added 11 points to lead Defiance, which also got 10 points from Hannah Harshman. The Engineer post players of Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville), Loving, Schmidt and Gracie Gibbs (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) held the Yellow Jackets' leading scorer, 6-foot-3 freshman Kelsey Tietje, to nine points – nearly eight below her season average.

The Engineers' three seniors – Ploof, Jaci Dalton (Hamilton, Mich./Black River) and Meadows – were honored in a special ceremony prior to the contest.

Rose-Hulman will return to the court Wednesday, when it hosts Earlham in a 7:30 p.m. matchup at Hulbert Arena.