DEFIANCE, OHIO – Three players finish in double figures to lead men's basketball (3-14 overall, 2-8 HCAC) in a hard fought Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference battle with Rose-Hulman on Saturday afternoon at the Karl H. Weaner Center as they fell 85-66.
Junior Allante Wheeler (Canton, Mich.) led the way for Defiance with a double-double registering 18 points and 12 rebounds, while freshman Elijah Pennington (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) chipped in 13 points and freshman Avion Franklin (Toledo/Whitmer) added 10 points.
The Fightin' Engineers surged ahead early in the opening half when the DC offense erupted following a three-pointer by Pennington with 17:46 to play, 6-3. Defiance continued its attack from outside as Wheeler delivered a deep ball at the 13:15 minute mark tying the contest 12-12. Rose-Hulman responded with a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to claim the double digit lead, 25-12.
The Purple and Gold slowly chipped at the Rose advantage using back-to-back three-pointers by freshman Ben Singer (Cambridge City, Ind./Lincoln) and Franklin at the 5:41 mark, 33-25. Junior Randall Aikins Jr. (Detroit, Mich./Plymouth) looked to steal the momentum for Defiance a few seconds later as he made his way into the score column with a runner in the lane, 33-27. The Engineers responded as Ryuji Aoki drained three straight three-pointers to extend the lead once more and claim the 48-33 halftime lead.
The Yellow Jackets entered the break shooting 12-for-28 (42.9%) from the field, including seven three-pointers.
The Yellow Jackets looked to crank up the intensity early in the second half as Pennington and Wheeler sparked a DC run pulling them within 51-40 at the 16:08 mark. The Engineers responded extending the lead once more following a 5-0 run at the 11:19 mark to push the advantage, 59-42. Defiance worked to cut the deficit again as freshman Dakota Barkley (Fort Wayne, Ind./Churubusco) delivered from three-point land with 10:17 to play, 59-48.
However, Rose-Hulman continued to attack on the offensive side of the ball finding back-to-back scores with 6:20 remaining, 69-52. DC tried to rally late in the half as Pennington delivered a three following a Wheeler layup to pull within 72-57. Rose used efficient free-throw shooting down the stretch to seal the 85-66 win.
Defiance returns to action Wednesday, January 24 as they host Manchester at the Karl H. Weaner Center. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.