LEXINGTON, Ky. – Transylvania got a season-high 21 points from Tate Cox and 20 from Ethan Spurlin Tuesday as the Pioneers defeated Mt. St. Joseph 75-57 in first-round action of the men's Heartland Conference Tournament at the Beck Center.
Transy, the No. 3 seed, is 20-6 while the No. 6 seeded Lions finish their season at 9-17. The Pioneers will move on to face No. 2 seed Hanover on Friday at 6:00 at Rose-Hulman in the HCAC semifinals. Transy reached the 20-win plateau for the second year in a row and for the fifth time in head coach Brian Lane's 11 seasons.
Defiance knocked off Franklin in the other quarterfinal contest and will meet Rose-Hulman Friday.
Transy led by only two points at halftime, but outscored Mt. St. Joseph 38-22 over the final 20 minutes. The Pioneers never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 18 late in the game. Transy outscored the visitors 30-18 in the paint and had a 27-15 rebounding advantage.
Brandon Rash was also in double figures for Transy with 13 points to go with five assists. Spurlin led both teams with nine rebounds.
Travis Combs led Mt. St. Joseph with 16 points and Joel Scudder had 11, all in the first half.
Both teams were hot from the field in the first half, which ended with the Pioneers up by a bucket, 37-35. While Transy was making 16 of 27 for 59 percent (four of 10 from three-point range), Mt. St. Joseph was knocking in 13 o 20 for 65 percent. That included a torrid seven of 10 from long range.
Transy came out of the gate and took control, leading by 10, 18-8, with 12:23 left. But the Lions rallied to gain the advantage for the first time, 30-29, with 3:29 on the clock. The teams traded the lead on the final three possessions of the half.
Cox led Transy with 10 first-half points and Spurlin added seven. Scudder was three of four from behind the arc and led the Lions with 11 points.
The Pioneers didn't let up and came out with a vengeance in the second half and quickly established an 11-point lead, 46-35, which they would not relinquish. The Lions didn't get closer than 10 points over the last seven minutes.
The other HCAC tourney semifinal game will feature No. 1 seed Rose-Hulman and Defiance on Friday at 8 p.m. The winners clash on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the HCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship at stake.
Transy is looking to get into the NCAA D-3 tournament for the second year in a row and for the fifth time since 2006.