Sirkin stars in Pioneers' 83-72 win over Bluffton

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Reserve guard Tommy Sirkin scored a career-high 10 points Saturday, including a tie-breaking three with 2:47 to play, lifting Transylvania to an 83-72 win over Bluffton in a men's Heartland Conference matchup at the Beck Center.

Transy, which had already locked up the No.3 seed in next week's HCAC tournament, is 19-6, 14-4 HCAC, while Bluffton is 11-14, 7-11 in the conference. The Beavers needed a win to have a shot at the sixth and final seed in the tournament.

Instead, Transy will host Mt. St. Joseph Tuesday in a quarterfinal game in the Beck Center. The winner will advance to meet Hanover Friday in the semifinals hosted by Rose-Hulman. Defiance hosts Franklin in the other quarterfinal contest Tuesday.

Transy was playing in its final regular season home game and honored seven seniors prior to tip-off. They were Brandon Rash, Ethan Spurlin, Barrett Meyer, Nick Fudge, Taylor Botkin, Leavitt Morrison, and Trey Beuttel.

Transy jumped out to a 17-8 lead over the Beavers on a three-pointer by Botkin at the 13:11 mark. But Bluffton used a 28-18 run to grab a 36-35 edge with four minutes left in the half. Bluffton led at the break, 44-40.

Meyer led Transy at halftime with 14 points and Spurlin added nine. Will Pope topped the Beavers with 16 points. Bluffton was 17 of 25 (68 percent) from the field, slightly better than Transy's 15 of 27 (56 percent).

Sirkin scored eight of his 10 points in the second half and Beuttel scored all 12 of his points over the final 20 minutes. Sirkin's big bucket gave Transy the lead for good at 73-70 after Bluffton had wiped out an 11-point deficit.

Sirkin also started a 9-0 run that gave the Pioneers a working margin. Spurlin had two free thows during that stretch and Beuttel added a layup. Sirkin capped the run with two free throws with 27 seconds to go to make it 79-70.

Transy, which shot 46 percent from the field for the game, including 10 of 26 from long range, was led by Spurlin's 18 points and seven rebounds. Meyer had 14 points while Rash contributed 12. Botkin had six points and three rebounds to go with two assists. Fudge had three points.

Josh Fisher led Bluffton with 26 points while Pope added 20 and Dustin Kinn 14 in a game that was tied six times and saw five lead changes.

The tournament championship game will be held next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Rose-Hulman with the winner earning the HCAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III National Championship. The Pioneers will be trying to make the field for the second straight year and for the fifth time since 2006.

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