Pioneers WBB tips off new year with win at Bluffton

Transy 64 Bluffton 59 Rachel Cox player of game

Bluffton, Ohio – The Transylvania women's basketball team began the 2018 calendar year with a big win, prevailing 64-59 against the Bluffton University Beavers Tuesday afternoon at the Sommer Center.

The Pioneers picked up their second Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win of the season, evening their conference record to 2-2 and moving to 7-4 overall on the season. Bluffton suffered its first conference defeat of the season, falling to 3-1 in HCAC play and 8-3 overall.

Three Pioneers hit double-digit scoring on Tuesday, led by senior forward Rachel Cox's 18 points. Cox added seven rebounds, two assists, and four blocks in 31 minutes of play. Junior guard Kristen Hayes added 13 points and five rebounds while junior guard Celia Kline scored 12 points, hitting on 50 percent of her shots.

Playing on Tuesday in a conference game that was previously scheduled for early December, the Pioneers brought defensive aggression from the outset. The Pioneers outscored Bluffton 11-8 in the first quarter due to low shooting figures.

Transylvania opened up the second quarter on a 9-0 run to build a veritable cushion that it would lean upon for the rest of the afternoon. Kline buried four consecutive free throws to complete the run and put the Pioneers ahead, 20 to 8. The Pioneers hit the halftime break with a 29-20 advantage.

Bluffton's shooting heated up in the second half but the Pioneers responded with timely moments against every Beaver wave. After Bluffton closed within eight points at 40-32, junior guard Macey Ford hit a three-pointer, her first of the game, to stretch the lead back to 11 for Transylvania. The Pioneers won their third straight quarter of the game to carry a 46-35 lead to the fourth quarter.

Both teams combined for just five points over the first four and a half minutes of the fourth quarter before two free throws from sophomore wing Shelby Boyle produced a 50-38 advantage for the Pioneers.

Bluffton went on a late 15-6 run to cut Transylvania's lead to four at 54-50 with two minutes to go, but freshman guard Zenoviah Walker scored on a drive to push the Pio lead back to six.

After Bluffton's TJ Mills split a pair of free throws, Cox scored with a minute to go to put the Pioneers back up on top by seven. The Beavers cut the Transy lead back down to three with 21 seconds left in regulation, but the Pioneers finished up an accurate day at the free throw line (18-20) to stave off Bluffton.

Transylvania is back in action on Wednesday evening at home as it hosts the Earlham College Quakers in HCAC play. Tip-off between Transylvania and Earlham is set for 7:30 p.m. from the Clive M. Beck Center in Lexington.

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