LEXINGTON, Ky. - Transylvania got off to a hot start at the Beck Center Tuesday, grabbing an early 18-point lead over Rose-Hulman and crusing to a 66-50 win over the Engineers to advance in the Heartland Conference Tournament.
Transy, the No. 3 seed, is 16-10 while the sixth seeded Engineers finish their season at 12-14. Transy will now meet No. 2 Franklin Friday in semifinal action at Defiance. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. Anderson defeated Hanover 65-52 and will face Defiance at 8 p.m. Friday. The HCAC championship game will tip off Saturday at 7 p.m.
Transy, winners of the past two HCAC tournaments, sped to a 34-17 point advantage at halftime, shotting 44.4 percent from the field, but connecting on 14 of 19 free throws to just three of five for the visitors. With Matthew Parton scoring nine points and Brock Jones coming off the bench for eight, Transy led by as many as 18 points in the first half. Guard Aaron Cash also had eight points and three steals in the period.
The Pioneers held Rose-Hulman to just six points over the first 10:30 of the game and led 19-6 on two Jones' free throws. The margin went to 16 on a Parton trey and 18, 30-12, on two free throws by Joey Verax.
Cash and Parton led the Pioneers with 15 points apiece while senior Stephen Gabbard, in his final Beck Center appearance, was four of seven from three-point land and finished with 14 points. Verax had 11 to go with seven rebounds.
Jeff McCartney was the only Engineer in double figures. He had 14 points off the bench.
Transy hit 47 percent from the field in the second half while holding Rose-Hulman to 40 percent. The Pioneers finished at 46.3 percent (19 of 41) for the game. They were nine of 21 from three-point range and 19 of 25 from the stripe.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sara Sexton converted two critical free throws to give Transy a four-point cushion with six seconds remaining Tuesday, and the Pioneers survived a last-second scare from Rose-Hulman to defeat the Engineers, 53-52 in Heartland Conference tournament action at the Beck Center.
Transy (15-11) will now move to to semifinal play of the HCAC tournament to face second-seed Manchester Friday at 6 p.m. at league champion Anderson. Rose-Hulman ends their season at 11-15.
The first-round tournament matchup at the Beck Center certainly delivered on drama. After Sexton's free throws put Transy up 53-49 with just six seconds left in the contest, the game looked all but clinched for the Pioneers.
But Rose-Hulman's Liz Ridgway drained a long three-pointer with 0:03 left on the clock to pull the Engineers within one, 53-52. After a Rose-Hulman timeout, Ridgway again came up big for the visitors, this time stealing Sexton's inbound pass. But Ridgway's shot from the lower block was too strong, and the Pioneers held on for a thrilling one-point victory.
Transylvania's defense down the stretch was key in the victory for the Pioneers. Before Ridgway's three-pointer, Transy held the Engineers scoreless for the last 5:54 of the second half.
Kelsey McCarty and Brittany Henderlight led the offense with 13 points a piece for Transy, with Sara Sexton adding 10. Jessica Gilbert had nine points, including a couple of big treys, and Olivia Akridge finished with eight. McCarty had eight rebounds for the Pioneers, who had a 36-32 edge on the boards.
The Pioneers led by six, 25-19, at halftime and they opened up an 11-point cushion just two minutes into the final period. But the Engineers rallied, primarily behind the play of Ridgway and guard Jill Floyd. The Engineers took their first lead of the second half, 49-46, on a three-pointer by Floyd with 5:54 left in the game.
Both teams would go scoreless until Akridge knocked down a critical three at the 1:34 mark to tie the contest at 49-49. Transy held the Engineers without a basket on their next possession.
After a McCarthy free throw put Transy up 50-49 on Transy's next possession, Akridge grabbed an offensive rebound off the missed second attempt. Henderlight drew a foul, and converted one of two free throws to give the Pioneers a two-point cushion, 51-49.
Transylvania's shot just 32.7 percent from the field, going 18 for 54. The Engineers shot the ball better at 42.9 percent (21 of 49), including 50 percent after half-time. Transy grabbed14 offensive rebounds compared to Hulman's 12.
The HCAC semifinal games will be held Friday at Defiance with the championship game set for Saturday at 2 p.m. with a spot in the NCAA Division III Championships at stake.
-By Jordan Bishop, Sports Information Intern
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