LEXINGTON, Ky.—The Transylvania University men's basketball team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday, as the Pioneers fell to conference foe Anderson University, 68-67.
Despite trailing early, Transy fought its way back into the game during the closing period, due in large part to 17 second half points from sophomore guard Alex Jones. The Pioneers finished with a flurry over the last 1:18 of game play after Anderson took a four point lead.
With 55 seconds remaining, senior guard Tommy Sirkin scored two of his 10 points with a jumper from the elbow to cut the deficit to 66-64. On their next defensive possession, the Transylvania defense forced a turnover and Jones drove the ball to the basket, where he was fouled.
At the line, Jones made 1-of-2 free throws to bring the score to 66-65 with 26 seconds to play. Anderson recovered the rebound but the Pioneers trapped and junior forward Parker Stansberry intercepted the wayward pass. He dished to Jones, who dropped in a layup with :18 on the clock to give Transy a one-point lead.
Anderson drove the ball down the court quickly and freshman guard Dillon Pulliam fouled, sending Anderson to the line with a chance to take the lead. The Ravens missed both free throws however and the Pioneer lead stayed intact, but a jump ball on the rebound gave possession back to Anderson.
With six seconds left to play, Anderson's Justin Jordan drove into the paint and hit an off balance runner from near the free throw line to catapult the Ravens into the lead. Transylvania called a timeout and after the break, Jones was given the ball at the top of the key with 3.8 seconds on the clock.
Jones beat his man off the dribble and got to the rack, but was strong on his shot as his buzzer-beating attempt went off the backboard and hit the front of the rim before rolling off the front edge as time expired.
The drama in the closing minute was indicative of the entire game, which saw five scores and nine lead changes. The two teams battled back and forth throughout with neither team gaining a dominant edge at any point. With each Anderson push to extend its lead, the Pioneers responded with a mini run of their own to keep the game within reach.
Transylvania took its first lead at the 19:38 mark in the first half but after falling behind, never regained the edge until Jones made a three-pointer with 7:34 to play in the second. Over the final seven minutes of action, neither team got out to more than a four-point advantage.
The Pioneers were led by Jones, who scored a game-high 25 points while picking up five boards and dishing out two assists. Stansberry gave Transy an edge in the paint, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. He was the only player to record a double-double for either team. Sirkin and freshman forward Robert Dence provided a scoring boost for Transylvania, each scoring 10 points.
All told, the Pioneers shot 44% (27-62) from the field in the game, including 48% (15-31) in the second half. Transylvania outrebounded the Ravens 34-32 while committing seven fewer turnovers than their opponent.
The loss drops Transy to 11-10 on the season, including an 8-6 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference mark. The Pioneers, who remained in fifth place in the HCAC standings, look to stay in the hunt for a conference tournament berth on Wednesday when they travel to Franklin (5-16, 4-10).