Terre Haute, Ind. – The Transylvania women's basketball team's pursuit of an automatic bid was halted by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Fightin' Engineers Saturday, falling 50-40 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship game at Hulbert Arena.
The Pioneers entered Saturday's game bidding for its first berth to the NCAA Tournament since the 2015 season, when it entered the tournament as an at-large team. On Saturday, the Pioneers were looking to secure the automatic bid which guaranteed them a spot in the field of 64.
But two challenging opening quarters to each half hindered the Pioneers from taking the win against the No. 1 seed Rose-Hulman at their home court. The Pioneers were outscored 13-8 in the first quarter, and 13-7 in the third quarter as the Engineers created just enough separation in a championship contest with valuable and rare possessions.
Rose-Hulman took six more field goal attempts than the Pioneers in a pivotal third quarter that saw the Engeineers grow their lead to 18, while the Pioneers went just 2-for-10 from the floor in the first 10 minutes following halftime.
The Engineers were bolstered by their plus-seven margin in the turnover category, forcing the Pioneers into 20 turnovers on the night. Both teams shot under 36 percent from the field as a whole, with Rose-Hulman hitting 5-of-13 shots from outside, and the Pioneers hitting 4-of-16 shots from behind-the-arc.
No Pioneer hit double-figure scoring, and just one player reached double digits on the evening, as the Engineers' Ally Bromenschenkel had 11.
Ashton Woodard put up a team-high nine points off the bench for the Pioneers, hitting her lone three-point attempt of the game and knocking down 4-of-6 free throws. Freshman guard Shelby Boyle and junior forward Rachel Cox had eight points each, while sophomore guards Celia Kline and Taylor Jackson had seven points apiece.
Cox led the Pioneers on the evening with six rebounds. Woodard had a game-high four steals to go with four rebounds.
Kline and Woodard were both named to the HCAC All-Tournament team as the two enjoyed three games of prolonged consistency.
A solid season led by a large volume of youngsters comes to an end for the Pioneers at 20-8, and 14-7 against all HCAC competition including regular season and tournament games. As the sun sets on this season, another encouraging indicator for the Pioneers going forward is the distinction of their roster having zero seniors, which projects an experienced and deep bunch approaching the 2017-18 season.