North Manchester, Ind. – The Transylvania women's basketball was denied in its pursuit of a regular season-closing win as it fell to the Manchester University Spartans 65-61 at Stauffer-Wolfe Arena Saturday.
A game that was mostly close throughout found Transylvania coming up short in the late stages of the game as the Spartans staved off the Pioneers.
The Pioneers completed their regular season with an 18-7 overall record and a 12-6 run through Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play.
Despite the four-point loss, the Pioneers sealed up the No. 3 seed in next week's HCAC Tournament, which means they will host No. 6 seed Defiance College in a Tuesday first-round home game in Lexington at 7:30 p.m.
Three different players scored in double figures for Transylvania, led by junior forward Rachel Cox's team-high 14 points. Sophomore guard Taylor Jackson added 13 points and sophomore point guard Kristen Hayes provided 13 points off the bench for the Pioneers.
Transylvania shot 39 percent from the field but the best three-point shooting team in the HCAC was hindered by 4-for-22 shooting from outside. Manchester doubled Transy's amount of made triples in the game to make up the difference despite shooting only 11-for-20 from the free-throw line.
Neither team led the game by more than eight points and neither team won a quarter by more than two points until the fourth quarter, when the Spartans outscored the Pioneers 16 to 12.
The game tied at 58-58 with 3:25 remaining, Manchester scored on two straight possessions to take a 62-58 lead. Freshman guard Shelby Boyle got to the line with 26 seconds left and hit both free throws to pull Transy back within two points, but Manchester made the necessary stops in the final half minute and hit enough free throws to hold onto victory.
The Pioneers now look ahead to the postseason as they aim to win the HCAC Tournament. The winner of the six-team tournament will be awarded the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, beginning in 13 days.
Tuesday's winner between Transylvania and Defiance will advance Friday to face No. 2 seed Bluffton on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for an 8:00 p.m. matchup.
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