Transylvania women’s basketball advances into third straight conference championship game with convincing win over Defiance

Celia dribbling

Lexington, Ky. – The No. 20 Transylvania women's basketball team began its 2019 postseason journey with a long-distance flurry, knocking down 10 three-pointers in the first half on the way to a 95-67 victory over the Defiance College Yellow Jackets in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Semifinals at the Beck Center.

The Pioneers defeated Defiance for its third time in three meetings in the 2018-2019 season to advance into their third straight HCAC Tournament Championship game and their sixth in seven seasons.   

Senior guard Celia Kline scored a season-high 27 points on 7-for-10 shooting from behind the arc to lead another three-point barrage for the Pioneers in their 2019 HCAC Tournament opener.

Defiance's season ended with an overall record of 10-17 after disposing of Mount St. Joseph in the HCAC first-round game on Tuesday.

Carrying the No. 1 tournament seed into HCAC postseason action on Friday after posting a conference record of 17-1 in the regular season, the Pioneers were intent on reaping the rewards of postseason homecourt advantage and enthralled a populous crowd at the Beck Center.  

Defiance cast the first stone with a 6-2 lead to hold the Pioneers in check after tip-off. But the Pioneers' cold start was short-lived as the hosts went on a 15-1 run thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Kline, an inside score by senior guard Kristen Hayes, a pair of layups by junior guard Ashton Woodard, and another triple courtesy of senior guard Taylor Jackson.

Transylvania extended its lead to 26-9 before claiming a 28-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. When the dust had settled, Kline had hit 4-of-6 three-pointers in the first quarter of play.

The rest of the Pioneers pitched in from long distance in the second quarter, knocking down 4-of-9 three-point tries to outscore Defiance 21-19 in the period.

The Yellow Jackets went on an extended 13-3 run elapsing the end of the second quarter and the start of the third quarter, but sophomore guard Zenoviah Walker knocked down a corner three-pointer, Transylvania's 11th of the game, early in the second half to push the Pioneers' lead back to 18 points.

Defiance went on an 8-2 run to slice Transylvania's lead down to 12 points with 6:05 to go in the third quarter. Senior guard Macey Ford responded with a three-point shot that sparked a 28-10 run by the Pioneers the rest of the quarter to send Transylvania into the fourth with a commanding 30-point lead.

The Pioneers hit 6-of-9 three-pointers in the third quarter to stamp their ticket into their third consecutive championship game where they will take on No. 2 seed Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for the third straight year.

Transylvania shot 17-for-31 from three-point range, tying its second-highest three-point output in a single game this season. The Pioneers finished 36-for-65 from the field overall (55 percent).

Kline finished with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals along with her 27 points. Junior guard Shelby Boyle checked in with 16 points, six rebounds, and a team-high seven assists. Woodard turned in 12 points, four rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal. Ford and Jackson added nine and eight points off the bench, respectively.

Transylvania will square off with Rose-Hulman in tomorrow's HCAC Tournament Championship game. The teams have met in the last two straight conference title games with Rose-Hulman winning both meetings, most recently a 57-51 result on February 24, 2018. The Pioneers last won a conference tournament championship game in the 2014 season when they defeated Hanover College, 110-70.

Transylvania will face Rose-Hulman at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Beck Center. The winner will earn the conference's automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament.

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