DECATUR — You can't blame Mark Scherer for wanting to get off on the right foot with Millikin fans.
The Millikin men's basketball team improved to 4-1 with its 80-76 win against Rose-Hulman on Monday — a game Scherer admitted he was nervous about.
"I felt a lot of pressure," said Scherer, in his first year coaching Millikin. "It's been a long time since Millikin has had a winner, so I felt some pressure for us to come in here, play well and get a win in our first time at home in front of our fans. We want to get the fans' respect and the respect of the community."
Rose-Hulman (0-4) came out shooting the ball extremely well, making 12 of its first 16 shots (75 percent), including hitting 8-of-9 from 3-point range. Rose-Hulman hit 57 percent from the field in the first half, including 73 percent from 3-point range to build a 42-31 halftime advantage. Millikin struggled from the field in the first half, hitting only 29 percent of its shots.
"You have to give Rose credit. They hit some huge shots," Scherer said. "We had a mixup in our rotation that we were able to correct at halftime."
Millikin battled back in the second half, shooting 61 percent from the field. Millikin tied the game at 47-47 with 12:54 remaining on a basket by Elijah Henry.
Sophomore Zach Fisher gave Millikin the lead with a steal and layup with 11:40 left. Millikin pulled out to an 8-point advantage at 61-53 with 7:24 left in the game. Rose-Hulman battled back to pull within one at 63-62 with 4:20 remaining on two free throws by Ryuji Aoki.
The Big Blue struggled from the free throw line in the second half, making only 13-of-23. However, Millikin made its free throws in the clutch with Fisher hitting four free throws in the final 18 seconds and Michael Beaty hitting two with just tenths of a second left on the clock to seal the win.
"We were able to get to the basket and get our mid-range game going in the second half," Scherer said. "We also stopped putting them on the line so much."
Millikin shot 43.5 percent, while Rose-Hulman made 49 percent. Rose-Hulman shot 50 percent from the 3-point range, but after a hot first half, the Engineers were 3-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Millikin won the rebounding battle 35-24.
Beaty led the way for the Big Blue coming off the bench to score 22 points. Fisher added 18. DeVante Harrell had 16 points and team high eight rebounds. Henry had 11 points and five rebounds.
John Czarnecki led Rose-Hulman (0-4) with 18 points and six rebounds. Stephen Schueth had 16 points.
Millikin women 82, Eureka 73
EUREKA — A late burst proved to be enough to give the Big Blue a hard-fought road win.
Millikin (3-1) led at the half 38-31, but Eureka rallied in the third quarter and tied the game at 55-55 after three periods.
The fourth quarter was tight, with the game tied at 71-71 with 4:21 left. Millikin took the lead for good with 3:56 left on a basket by Lauren Moses. A 3-pointer by Yanni Saddler with 1:46 remaining pushed the Millikin advantage to 76-71. Devin Curry sealed the game going 6-for-6 from free-throw line in the final 26 seconds.
"We were able to sneak away with a win," Millikin coach Lori Kerans said. "Yanni played tough. She had to leave the game with a bloody nose and lip, but went and saw the team doctor and came back out. She only missed three minutes of time and she played well."
Curry had 24 points and Saddler added 21. Emily Schultz had 12 points and five assists. Freshman Jordan Hildebrand had a team high nine rebounds and eight points.
"Devin led the way," Kerans said. "I was pleased with the way we shot and the way we rebounded. This helps us get ready for conference play."
Hayley Reneau led Eureka (2-2) with 18 points, five steals and three assists.
Both the Millikin men and women begin CCIW play on Saturday at Wheaton College.