Jefferson’s electric second half spurs last-second comeback by Pioneers against Earlham

jefferson driving to hoop

Lexington, Ky. – Sophomore guard Michael Jefferson scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half as the Transylvania men's basketball team finished off a last-second comeback to upend the Earlham College Quakers, 76-75 on Wednesday night at the Beck Center.

The Pioneers twice overcame challenging deficits in the second half, first climbing out of a seven-point hole with 12 minutes left in the game to take a two-point lead of their own at the midway point of the second half. Earlham responded with another run over the following two minutes to craft a six-point lead which held until Jefferson scored with eight seconds left to give the Pioneers the final lead of the evening.  

After mishandling the ball in the backcourt on the final possession, Earlham was unable to get a shot off before the clock expired as the Pioneers began the new year with a thrilling victory.

Jefferson shot 8 for 10 from the floor in the second half to help galvanize the Pioneer offense. The sophomore was aided by fellow guard, junior Gabe Schmitt, who unleashed 10 of his 21 points in the second half to keep the Pioneers in the thick of the game.

Transylvania improved to 7-5 overall, and 4-1 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play while Earlham fell to 3-9 overall and 2-3 in conference action.

The Pioneers withstood a consistent shooting night from the Quakers, who sank 31 of 64 field-goal attempts (48.4 percent) and hit 7 of 16 three-pointers (43.8 percent).

The second half effort by the Pioneers came courtesy of a two-pronged offensive attack by Jefferson and Schmitt. Jefferson scored nine of Transylvania's 11 points during an 11-4 run which began at the 15:25 mark of the second half. As Earlham surged back ahead, 65-59 with 8:15 to go in the contest, Schmitt provided two 3-pointers to thin the Quakers' advantage to 69-68 with under five minutes remaining.

Jefferson took the torch back from Schmitt down the stretch, scoring the final three baskets for the Pioneers as the home team finally got over the hump on its final offensive possession of the night.

Freshman center Luke Schroeder was the other double-digit scorer for the Pioneers on Wednesday, adding 10 points and six rebounds, along with a key hook shot during Transylvania's final comeback push.

Schmitt connected on 5 of 10 three-pointers, representing individual season-highs in three-point makes and percentage.

Transylvania hits the road this weekend to face the Defiance College Yellow Jackets in Defiance, Ohio. Tip-off for the HCAC contest is set for 3:00 p.m. at the Karl H. Weaner Center.  

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