Anderson, Ind. – Coming off a week of test-based rest, the Transylvania men's basketball team looked fresh and vibrant in a 79-68 win against the Anderson University Ravens Saturday afternoon at O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.
A sizzling first half from sophomore Gabe Schmitt combined with a powerful second half by junior big man Kyle Gullett boosted the Pioneers to a 6-1 record and 2-1 ledger against Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opponents.
It was a collective defense for Transylvania that hounded Anderson into a poor shooting night from outside, holding the third-best team in the conference in three-point shooting to a 6-for-23 night from behind the arc.
The win was an impressive showing for the Pioneers, who most recently played one week ago in a thin home loss to HCAC rival Rose-Hulman. After a week of fall semester finals, the Pioneers looked eager to perform at a high level on Saturday, 200 miles from home.
The first half saw a satisfying pace between the Pioneers and Ravens as freshman guard Michael Jefferson was first to strike with a sharp runner as the shot clock dwindled to one second. The adept play set the tone for an aggressive offensive night by the Pios.
After Anderson took a 5-4 lead, the Pioneers spread their wings and soared on a 17-7 run behind a balanced inside-outside attack. Schmitt shot 5-for-5 in the first half, including sinking both of his triples to ignite the fire for the Pioneers in the backcourt. Senior forward Robert Dence and Gullett took turns battling indoors to maintain a steady lead for the Pioneers. A putback from Dence late in the second half propped up a 28-20 lead for the Pioneers, at which point the visitors held an 18-4 points in the paint advantage.
Anderson went on a late first-half run to pull within two at 30-28 near the four-minute mark of the first half before Transy closed the half with a 40-37 lead.
Transylvania opened up the second half with a fierce wave, outscoring Anderson 16-5 behind an early charge from Gullett, nearly unstoppable inside.
Anderson cut Transy's lead back to 63-52 off second chance points, but the Pioneers answered back with two quick buckets following a timeout to stretch the lead back to 15
Sharp execution from Transylvania guards continued to reward Gullett as the big man finished with 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half. Leading 69-54, Gullett grabbed a deflection with one second left on the shot clock to put away a crucial bucket that provided Transy with a 17-point cushion near the 5:00 minute mark. Transylvania grew its lead to a game-high 18 point margin with three minutes left in the contest before reserves from both sides signed off on the evening.
Schmitt finished the night with 15 points, while Jefferson offered a balanced line of 12 points, six rebounds, a game-high six assists, and three steals. Dence was the other double-digit scorer for the Pioneers, producing 10 points and seven rebounds. Transylvania's defense deprived Anderson of double-digit scorers on Saturday as the Ravens shot 39 percent from the field.
Transylvania next returns to action on Wednesday, December 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the first night of the eighth-annual Don Lane Classic at Transylvania. The Pioneers will take on Emory & Henry College in the annual Christmas precursor from the Clive M. Beck Center.
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