GREENCASTLE, Ind. — The No. 25-ranked Illinois Wesleyan women's basketball team escaped with a 60-59 win over Rose-Hulman in Sunday's third place game of the Midwest Challenge, hosted by DePauw University. The Titans improved to 3-2 while the Engineers slipped to 2-3.
Junior Maddie Merritt's layup with eight seconds remaining off an assist from senior Rebekah Ehresman staked the Titans to a 60-58 lead. An IWU foul with no time remaining gave the Engineers a pair of free throws and an opportunity to force overtime but the first free throw was missed.
"That (Rose-Hulman) was a good team over there," said IWU head coach Mia Smith. "This entire tournament field was very even and you could have come out of here 0-2 just as easily as 2-0 so we're thankful for the way things turned out."
Merritt led the Titans with 12 points while freshman Raven Hughes added 10 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore Sydney Shanks also grabbed seven rebounds as the Engineers owned a 36-33 advantage on the boards.
The Titans led 16-14 after one quarter and built up a 34-22 lead in the second quarter before Rose-Hulman scored the final 10 points in the last 3:09 of the first half to make it 34-32 at intermission.
IWU led 47-45 after three quarters and the game was tied at 56-56 with 3:18 to play and 58-58 with 38 seconds remaining.
Rose-Hulman had 31 turnovers while the Titans committed 17 turnovers and had 16 steals. The Engineers shot 50 percent from the field (21 of 42) while Illinois Wesleyan shot 34.8 percent (24 of 69). Ehresman and Kelsey Walsberg each had a team-high four assists.
"If our defense doesn't pressure them into those turnovers, we don't win this game," added Smith. "We never really got into an offensive rhythm and our shot selection wasn't all that great."
Illinois Wesleyan opens its College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin schedule on Saturday when Carthage visits the Shirk Center.
"We've been on the road quite a while," said Smith. "We're ready for some home cooking."