Terre Haute, Ind. – On what proved to be an exhilarating night of postseason basketball, the Transylvania women's basketball team mounted a second-half comeback to defeat the Bluffton University Beavers 61-55 in the semifinals of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Sophomore guard Celia Kline led the Pioneers in scoring with 15 on the night, 10 of which came in the pivotal second half. Kline also grabbed five rebounds in the come-from-behind victory.
Transylvania's scintillating first win of the season against the Beavers was a sweet and timely occasion. The Pioneers returned the favor to the Beavers, who had won both regular season meetings against Transy by an average of 19 points.
But on Friday night, the tournament matchup between the two teams had a completely different complexion.
Transylvania jumped out to an early 4-0 lead over Bluffton just over a minute into the game. However, the Beavers responded with a 16-3 run over the final eight minutes of the quarter, giving them a 16-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Pioneers then suffered through a horrendous shooting second quarter, missing all five of their three-point attempts while shooting 36 percent from the field overall. Transylvania's shooting woes saw the Pioneers trailing Bluffton 19-28.
Freshman guard Ashton Woodard was the lone bright spot for the Pioneers in the second quarter, as she came off the bench to score eight of Transylvania's 12 points in the period.
The Pioneers came out in the third quarter with a collective firepower, ready to shoot their way back into the game, as they outscored the Beavers 24-16 while shooting a scorching 72 percent from the field.
Trailing by just one point heading into the fourth quarter, the Pioneers turned to their defense to take control of the game. Transylvania's intensified defensive pressure forced the Bluffton offense to shoot a dismal 22 percent in the final quarter.
After trading baskets early in the fourth quarter, sophomore guard Kristen Hayes scored a contested layup with 8:36 remaining in the game giving the Pioneers the lead for good at 47-46.
Transylvania shot 5-for-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to preserve the 61-55 victory.
With tonight's win, Transylvania's record now stands at 20-7 overall.
Next, the Pioneers will face No. 1 seed Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers in the HCAC Championship game tomorrow night. The winner of the championship game will be awarded the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Pioneers are aiming to return to the ultimate dance of Division III women's basketball for the first time in two years.
The 2017 HCAC Women's Basketball Tournament Championship game is slated for a 5:00 PM tipoff at the Hulbert Arena in Terre Haute, Indiana.
For more on Transylvania women's basketball, follow their official twitter @TUWBX