LEXINGTON, Ky.—In front of a raucous crowd of more than 830 fans at the Clive M. Beck Center, the Transylvania University men's basketball team was twice able to pull within one point of the visiting Centre College Colonels, but they were unable to grab the lead as they fell 61-46.
The Pioneers entered the second half trailing by 13 points and made a concerted effort to get back in the game through an increase in defensive intensity and a focus on rebounding. Transy opened the scoring in the closing frame off an offensive rebound and tip-in from forward Bo Schuh to draw the score to 34-23.
On the next trip down the court for the Pioneers resulted in another offensive rebound but this time they were unable to make the basket. However, they would get possession back after guard Alex Jones picked up a steal at the 17:58 mark. He would dish to Schuh who hit a mid-range jump shot to pull Transylvania within nine.
Transy would go on an extended run over the next five minutes of game play to pressure the Colonels, who led for all but 36 seconds of the game. Guard Michael Stafford pulled in a defensive board and rushed down the court for a layup attempt and was fouled. He would hit one of the two ensuing free throws to make the score 35-27.
On the next Centre possession, Stafford jumped a passing lane and intercepted a pass, forcing one of 10 turnovers for the Colonels on the night. Stafford gave the ball up to guard Cooper Theobald, who drilled a jumper from the elbow to draw the Pioneers within six at the 16:05 mark.
After two free throws from Centre pushed the lead back to eight, Stafford drilled a three-point shot off an assist from Jones to cut the lead to five with 15:06 to play. The Pioneers forced a missed shot by Centre the next time down the court and Stafford again took an assist from Jones, this time converting a layup to draw Transy within three.
Both teams would go cold for nearly two minutes, with neither team scoring again until the 13:13 mark when a jump shot from Centre pushed the lead back to five. Guard Simon Christon put a layup down for the Pioneers on their next possession and a jumper from Jones with 10:43 to play drew the Pioneers within one at 39-38.
It was the closest Transylvania would get, however, as Centre caught fire and went on a 14-2 run over the next five minutes, capped by a layup at the 5:35 mark, taking the air out of the building and out of the Pioneers comeback hopes.
Head coach Brian Lane noted that his team showed tremendous toughness in the second half to cut into the deficit.
"I was extremely pleased that we fought from 13 points down to cut it to one," Lane said. "I thought we had some really good looks at the basket but just couldn't make that key basket to take the lead."
Theobald and Schuh each scored a team-high 10 points for the Pioneers and Stafford added eight. Transy shot 30 percent from the floor and just 15.8 percent (3-19) from three-point range. Schuh also pulled in 11 rebounds for the Pioneers as the only player for Transy to record a double-double.
"Once again our freshmen led us in points, rebounds and intensity. When we get our older guys healthy and playing with that same fire, like I have seen them do before, we should get some momentum heading into conference play," said Lane. "I saw glimpses of a Transy team with a lot of potential if we can continue to push each other."
Transylvania (1-3) returns to action on Dec. 2 with a home game against Indiana Southeast. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 pm.