Pioneers extend their win streak to five with 69-60 win over Mount St. Joseph

Pioneers extend their win streak to five with 69-60 win over Mount St. Joseph

Story by: Mike Bennett

LEXINGTON, Ky.—The Transylvania Pioneers took control with an 18-4 run in the first half and hit 12 free throws in the final 1:42 to notch their fifth straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference win with a 69-60 victory over Mount St. Joseph Wednesday night at the Clive M. Beck Center.

Transylvania owns wins over the top two teams in the standings in Defiance College and Mount St. Joseph and currently sit in fourth place in the HCAC with five conference games remaining.

Trailing 17-16 in the first half, the Pioneers' Tristan Burgess hit a three-pointer to give Transylvania a 19-17 lead with 8:46 remaining in the half, and the Pioneers never looked back, finishing the half on an 18-4 run. In addition to their offensive prowess, the Transylvania defense held Mount St. Joseph to just 30 percent (9-of-30) in the first half including 10 percent (1-of-10) from three-point range.

For the half, the Pioneers were led by Tim Bickel's nine points and four rebounds. Robert Dence added eight point and four rebounds, and Tommy Sirkin, on his way to a career-high in points, finished the half with seven points and four rebounds.

After taking a 34-21 lead into the half, the Pioneers saw the Lions close to within six at 55-49 with 5:32 remaining in the game, but an Alex Jones' jumper from the right elbow quickly pushed the lead back to eight. Trailing 57-51 with 3:50 remaining, Mount St. Joseph was unable to convert free throws, but the Pioneers had no such trouble from the charity stripe. Transylvania, who lost a nail-biter to the Lions on Dec. 3, 2014, hit 12 free throws in the final 1:42 and held on for a 69-60 victory over Mt. St. Joseph. In the final 1:42, Sirkin converted six free throws. Jones converted four free throws, and Parker Stansberry added two free throws with just 17.9 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

For the game, Sirkin led the Pioneers with a career-high 15 points to go along with seven rebounds. Four other Pioneers also hit double-figures including Stansberry (14 points), Dence (12 points), Jones (10 points) and Bickel who finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

On the night, the Pioneers converted 95 percent of their free throws (19-of-20). The Transylvania defense held Mount St. Joseph (15-5, 10-3 HCAC) to just 60 points, nearly 15 points below their season average, and the Pioneers outrebounded the Lions 35-30 even though the Lions had been enjoying a +5.0 rebounding margin on the season.

The Pioneers (11-9, 8-5 HCAC) return to action at the Clive M. Beck Center Feb. 7, against Anderson University immediately following the women's game scheduled for 2 p.m.

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